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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| February 7, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 14) |


MRC Alert: Ickes Ignored; Too Little OJ; Not Reading National Review

1.  Harold Ickes asked that evidence be destroyed and Kenneth Starr considers indicting top Clinton aides, but neither ABC or NBC find either newsworthy.

2.  "That's sick," Gannett's Deborah Mathis says of the suggestion that some see Ralph Reed as a leader in the black community.

3.  A top editor at a major daily worries that the media underplayed Tuesday's OJ verdict.

4.  CBS offers Bryant Gumbel "big money" and a news magazine. Meanwhile, he's about to get the NAACP's top award.

5.  Brit Hume reveals that "nobody...at any of the networks reads the National Review."

6.  The February 10 Notable Quotables. In the first quote Time magazine asserts that among the Presidents who presided over "prosperity" -- Jimmy Carter.

1) Two major developments in the Clinton scandals were revealed in Thursday newspaper stories, but ABC and NBC didn't tell their viewers anything about them.

In a February 6 front page Boston Globe story reporter Michael Kranish relayed: "President Clinton renewed controversial aid flights to Cuba last October on the same day a campaign donor pressed Clinton to resume the flights and offered to arrange a $5 million contribution to the President's campaign, the person who made the offer told the Globe yesterday."

The offer came from R. William Meddoff who served as an intermediary for a wealthy Texan, William Morgan. Meddoff has released a copy of a fax he got from Harold Ickes, then White House Deputy Chief of Staff, instructing Meddoff how and to which specific groups to donate the money. Soliciting donations while a White House employee would be illegal.

Thursday's Washington Post reported that "the staff of Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr is finalizing a detailed memo outlining the pros and cons of bringing criminal charges against top members of the administration, including the President and White House aides, as well as the First Lady, sources close to the investigation said."

Coverage Thursday night:
-- NBC Nightly News: Not a syllable about either development. But NBC turned one minute and 16 seconds over to a "In His Own Words" segment from President Clinton. Brokaw introduced the clip: "President Clinton put on his pastor's robes today, in a manner of speaking, when he appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast...This year the President made a pointed sermon, telling everyone to climb onto the high road."

In the excerpt Clinton complained that "This town is gripped with people who are self-righteous, sanctimonious and hypocritical. All of us are that way sometimes..." And, "...We are in a world of hurt and we need help. We are in the breach. We are in the hole here. And cynicism and all this negative stuff is just sort of a cheap excuse for not doing the best with your life..."

By avoiding any "negative" news on Clinton NBC must have made him happy. Up next: Gwen Ifill profiled Republican Congressman John Kasich, whom she dubbed "the pitbull Republican and veteran budget slasher from Ohio."

-- ABC World News Tonight: On Monday night ABC did run a piece on the Ickes memo, but Thursday night ABC didn't update viewers with the Cuba angle or mention the Starr development.

-- The CBS Evening News highlighted both. CBS aired a brief story on Starr from Rita Braver followed by a lengthy (three minutes and 47 seconds) examination on Ickes and Meddoff. The piece by reporter Phil Jones included this somewhat humorous exchange:
Jones: "Ickes faxed a two page memo to Meddoff directing Morgan to send his first donations to three tax exempt organizations ["National Coalition of Black Voter Participation," "Defeat 209" and "Vote Now 96"] and $500,000 to the Democratic National Committee, which would not be deductible. Within hours of sending this Medoff says Ickes called back with an urgent request."
Meddoff: "He said I made an error in sending that to you, please shred the document, please shred it."
Jones: "Ickes, now a private consultant to the administration, claims he was not fundraising but simply facilitating the offer. And, as far as using the word shred -- [to Medoff], Mr. Ickes said he never, never used the word shred."
Meddoff: "And I'm the Pope."

2) Liberals love diversity and bridging difference between communities, except, it seems, if that might lead some to join a conservative group. MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski caught a very intolerant comment from a reporter on last weekend's Inside Washington.

Discussing the Christian Coalition's effort to recruit blacks, Washington Post reporter John Yang explained that one of the ministers with Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed at the press conference announcing the effort, Lawrence Haygood of Alabama, "was so moved that he declared that Ralph Reed was the new leader of the black community."

That was a revolting thought to Gannett News Service reporter Deborah Mathis. She shot back: "That's sick. That's actually perverse. Ralph Reed probably doesn't, other than that minister from Tuskegee, probably can't count the number of black people he knows on one hand."

3) Not enough OJ coverage? On the February 5 Prime News, CNN reporter Gary Tuchman reviewed how the media juggled OJ and the State of the Union address. Tuchman noted: "As it turned out, the verdict came down just as the speech was ending. So would journalists do things differently next time? Most say no, but some say yes."

As viewers saw video of the Detroit Free Press front page with a huge "Simpson Loses" headline above a big picture taking up the left two-thirds of the page and with Clinton's speach on left side of page, Thom Fladung, News Editor of the Detroit Free Press asserted:

"I might play OJ up a little more. I've heard from people today, from some of my bosses today, that they felt like the package if anything wasn't big enough."

4) CBS is the latest network to make a big push for Bryant Gumbel. USA Today's Peter Johnson reported on February 5: "The latest buzz is that CBS' mating dance might work and that Gumbel is intrigued by the network's offer of big money, a news magazine to replace Dan Rather's 48 Hours and maybe a CBS syndicated show."

On Saturday, February 8 the NAACP will present Bryant Gumbel with its "President's Award." The Washington Post's John Carmody reported February 5: "NAACP President Kweisi Mfume will present the award via satellite at the event, which will be hosted by Arsenio Hall and Patti LaBelle. The Image Awards special will air on Fox on Thursday, February 27."

5) Brit Hume, the former ABC White House reporter who is now Washington Editor for Fox News, recently offered an illuminating anecdote to show how unfamiliar the media elite are with conservative ideas. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens picked this up on CNBC's Hardball and transcribed Hume's January 28 comments.

Hume recalled: "The New York Times has more influence on the networks than any other single publication. To give you an idea of the mindset there. In 1993 I wrote 15 pieces, basically analytical pieces, for National Review. Now there's a question about whether I filed the proper clearance procedures at ABC News in doing that. They never noticed!"

Chris Matthews, host: "Ha! They never read it!"

Hume: "Because, a: nobody in that hierarchy, and I think at any of the networks reads the National Review. And nobody that they know reads the National Review! Nobody they talk to reads the National Review! And it isn't because they are up there, they're not a group of political activists plotting to help Bill Clinton and go after Newt Gingrich. It's not that at all. It's just a general mindset."

I doubt the same can be said of The Nation or Mother Jones.
-- Brent Baker (NQ follows)

6) Below is the latest edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Half the quotes have not appeared in previous CyberAlerts, so there's some new material here. To subscribe to the colorful (OK, one color -- blue) snail mail version for $19 annually, e-mail Carey Evans at cevans@mediaresearch.org and she'll send an order form.

February 10, 1997 (Vol. Ten; No. 3)

Remember Those Prosperous, Tranquil Carter Years?

"They [journalists] have tended to write bad scripts, at least at first, for those Presidents who presided in moments of prosperity and tranquility and kept them that way. Cases in point: George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Dwight Eisenhower, William Howard Taft, and Martin Van Buren."
-- Time columnist Hugh Sidey in a February 10 piece on how Clinton may become a forgettable President like Rutherford Hayes.

Editorials on the Front Page

"Like an ominous storm blown in from the East, the reality of welfare reform has descended with relentless and unsparing force on thousands of families like that of [Yvonne] Parris who begin the new year today with less cash to live on and the prospect of a welter of new rules aimed at restricting their access to government aid....Many who are against the cuts argue that the welfare overhaul does little to address the fundamental causes of poverty, but is instead based on long-standing myths and prejudices."
-- Los Angeles Times reporters Carla Rivera and Hector Tobar in a front-page news story, January 1.

Aren't the Kids Worth More Taxes?

"Governor Shaheen, you've said that you want kindergarten available for every child in your state. And you're proposing to finance it with higher cigarette taxes and more gambling in the state. I guess you have to do that because you've locked yourself away from calling for any sales tax or income tax in New Hampshire. Are the kids not worth having a sales tax or an income tax?"
-- Washington Post reporter David Broder to New Hampshire Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen, February 2 Meet the Press.

Cuomo, Crowley & Kennedy

CNN reporter Candy Crowley: "And the hearing on Andrew Cuomo's nomination as Housing Secretary was practically breathless." Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.): "This is a sterling choice by the President." Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.): "You have, certainly have an impressive record and an impressive group of friends." Crowley: "It should all be so easy."
-- January 22 Inside Politics.


"Senate confirmation for two of President Clinton's other Cabinet appointees may not be so easy. Housing Secretary nominee Andrew Cuomo was grilled for three hours on the state of Housing and Urban Development. The Department is under congressional fire for alleged inefficiency and wastefulness."
-- CNN The World Today anchor Kathleen Kennedy, same night.

The Most Trusted Comrade in America

"I thought that we Americans overreacted to the Soviets and the news coverage sometimes seemed to accentuate that misdirected concern. Fear of the Soviet Union taking over the world just seemed as likely to me as invaders from Mars. Well, perhaps I was naive, but I'd seen those May Day parades and Soviet bread lines and miserable conditions hidden behind them. That war-devastated country didn't seem that threatening to me...The nuclear arms race was on in earnest. All the anti-Soviet paranoia that had been festering since the war really blew up then. A Soviet bomb was seen as an assault on us. But I saw it as part of their pursuit of nuclear equality. After all, what should we expect, that our enemy's just going to sit still there and not try to develop the bomb?"
-- Walter Cronkite on the year 1948 in Part 3 of the Discovery Channel's Cronkite Remembers, January 16.

The President Humbly Accepts Our Flaws!

"As he begins his second term you may lament that President Clinton leaves little eloquence. But in an age of focus groups and consultants saying, 'Keep it short. Don't take sides,' few politicians do. He faces personal charges about his conduct in a motel bedroom. And ethical allegations about opening the Lincoln bedroom to the highest contributor. But you come back to the fact that if Bill Clinton isn't always trusted he has twice been entrusted by the largest responsibility we have to bestow by voters who can have few illusions. Instead they seem to trust that as President Clinton displays his own excesses and frailties he forgives and accepts ours, too."
-- NPR weekend anchor Scott Simon, January 19 NBC Today.

Can We Afford to Wait for President Gore?

"Still their shared needs and mutual admiration cover an essential difference between the two men. Both think deep thoughts about saving the world, but they approach the task quite differently. Clinton is often roundabout, if not waffling. Gore is a plunger who thinks and acts in a straight line. Because Gore has been a reserved politician, his sometimes messianic zeal has been overlooked. The Vice President has written that his call to save the environment began with the shock of a near-fatal car accident to his son, Albert III. Characteristically, Gore felt it wasn't enough to save one child; he wanted to save all the world's children. By the same token, he has said privately that his absorption with arms control in the 1980s began with dreams that he could not rescue his family from nuclear war." -- Newsweek's Evan Thomas, January 27.

People Are Too Stupid to Invest for Their Own Retirement

"It's one thing for someone like me, who makes a very good living, to bet on the stock market. I can afford to lose. But betting the federal budget on stocks is madness. And forcing millions of people who don't know stocks from smocks to let the market determine whether their retirement dinners will consist of cat food or caviar doesn't seem like the way we should treat people."
-- Newsweek Wall Street Editor Allan Sloan, January 20.

What Bias? Who Cares?

"What were we going to do differently? Pretend that it wasn't static? Take up the slack for Dole? And we certainly can't do anything about the perception that we're too liberal. I thought David Brinkley (in his on- air anti-Clinton diatribe) struck a pretty good blow against the feeling that all reporters are liberal Democrats, but it doesn't seem to have changed anything. The truth is that I don't care anymore."
-- ABC News political editor Hal Bruno quoted in the January Dateline, the newsletter of the D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (Parenthetical addition theirs).

"Although the experience and independence of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Ted Koppel would give their opinions a lot more weight than those of any politician, they still observe the disciplines of their craft. Their on-air analyses plumb the views and prejudices of others without parading their own."
-- Former New York Times Executive Editor Max Frankel deploring ABC's hiring of George Stephanopoulos, January 19 New York Times Magazine.

"I was about to say that if you want to talk about bias, go ask President Clinton where the bias lies. As you know, the White House just issued this big huge study, they called it, of how the mainline media is sucked in by the right-wing conspiratorialists. My point is that everybody who watches television brings their own biases to it, and if what you're watching doesn't please you, then you think we're biased. Everybody dislikes the messenger. Everybody complains about us, right wing, left wing, Democrats, Republicans. They all pound on us. They all think we're unfair to them if we're telling them things they don't want to hear. And we do the best we can. We try to be fair."
-- CBS 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, January 31.

That's the Declaration of Independence, Science Boy

"For Americans, 'the pursuit of happiness' is not just a slogan. It's written into our Bill of Rights. But what exactly is happiness?" -- ABC science reporter Michael Guillen on Good Morning America, January 21.

-- L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham, Editors
-- Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen, James Forbes, Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters; Media Analysts
-- Kathy Ruff, Marketing Director; Carey Evans, Circulation Manager; Brian Schmisek, Intern

  -- Brent Baker





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