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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| February 25, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 23) |


Conservative Dr. K; CBS on Guns; ABC's Liberal Director

1.  On CBS Henry Kissinger is labeled a "conservative."

2.  A Newsweek reporter says Clinton scandal underplayed; ABC catches up with NBC; but revelations still ignored.

3.  CBS charges that the Empire State Building shooting has "prompted angry calls for a national handgun licensing system."

4.  Being elected Tuesday to the Board of Directors of the company which owns ABC: liberal Democrat George Mitchell.

5.  Two TV reporters are fighting the opening of a pharmacy in their neighborhood.

6.  A couple of weeks ago CBS and CNN reported an affair between Susan McDougal and Bill Clinton. The American Spectator had the story six months ago.

1) How far left must you be to consider Henry Kissinger a conservative? Liberal enough to be a New York Times reporter turned columnist, such as Tom Friedman. On CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday Friedman asked Kissinger:
"Dr. Kissinger, the death of Deng Xiaoping has triggered an interesting intellectual debate on the conservative right, with a lot of conservative journals now and writers coming and saying that to be a conservative, and you were associated with a conservative administration, to be a conservative on China is to understand that you have to stand up strategically, to contain this burgeoning giant, and morally, to contain this very oppressive regime. How do you as a conservative, and who has been an object of some of these attacks, react to that argument?"

That's six conservative labels in one question. And if Kissinger is so conservative, why has he been "an object" of attack from conservatives?

2) At least one reporter has decided that a Clinton fundraising scandal development was underplayed. Citing a Sunday Washington Post story run inside the paper, Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow told the panelists on the February 23 show:

"The other thing that's happened is the Democratic National Committee, Don Fowler the former chairman says, well of course we were trying to get people in contact with administration officials, with cabinet members and so on. They give us money, that's what they pay us for. That seems to me to be an admission that this administration was on sale."
Newsweek's Howard Fineman responded: "I thought that was a startling admission and really underplayed. We're chasing all these little details about Johnny Chung and John Huang, all of which are important, but they laid it right out there. They said basically...just come in and sit down."

The Sunday night CBS Evening News was joined in progress in Washington, but neither NBC Nightly News or the ABC's World News Sunday reported anything about the Post story.

Four days after NBC first broke the story and three days after Clinton promised to investigate the situation, ABC did, however on Sunday, finally air a story on the White House employing DNC-paid staffers. Reporter Carla Davis played soundbites from new DNC chief Roy Romer's appearance on This Week in which he said the practice should end. Davis then noted: "This comes after days of non-stop criticism over the Clinton administration's use of DNC-paid workers." Days of criticism ABC viewers didn't hear a peep about.

Monday night (February 24) CBS didn't utter a syllable on fundraising, but both ABC and NBC aired full stories about the access bought by Johnny Chung, a matter detailed in Saturday's New York Times. On NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers reported:
"...Chung's lawyer told NBC News that he is certain that in at least one case there was a direct connection. He says Chung was told, he won't say by whom, that a big contribution would help facilitate Chung's request to bring six Chinese officials to the White House for lunch and to watch the President's radio address. So on March 7, 1995 Chung wrote a $50,000 check to the Democratic Party. A few days later he and his Chinese guests did in fact dine at he White House and then watched as the President spoke in the Oval Office."

ABC's Linda Douglass told World News Tonight viewers about the "potentially explosive allegation" that Chung, who donated $366,000 to the Democrats over four years, gave money to get to watch the radio address.

Before you get too excited about the networks finally picking up on some newspaper stories, note that the broadcast networks have yet to mention a Wall Street Journal story from last week which detailed how a Miami businessman who gave $800,000 got access to high-level officials in order to try to influence U.S. policy toward Paraguay. The February 24 USA Today carried a report on how congressional investigators are exploring the matter.

3) Monday night CBS turned the Empire State Building shooting into an opportunity for some pro-gun control polemics. Referring to gunman Ali Abu Kamal, Dan Rather announced:
"He killed one person and wounded six others before taking his own life, all with a semi-automatic handgun that could not have been easier to buy. That, as correspondent John Roberts reports tonight, is bringing new calls for tougher handgun control laws."
Roberts explained that Kamal bought a pistol at a Palm Bay, Florida gun shop after using a hotel as his address and waiting three days to pass a background check. Roberts then added:
"Whether Kamal had intended to shoot up the observation deck of the Empire State Building, or just take his own life, no one yet knows. But it has prompted angry calls for a national handgun licensing system."
Dennis Henigan, Handgun Control Inc: "Where every handgun purchaser must have a license that is issued after a thorough background check, a thorough residency check and after training requirements have been satisfied."

Like a pro-gun control group needs to be "prompted" to advocate gun control.

Here's how Rather introduced an interview segment with New York's Mayor: "A short time ago I spoke to the Mayor of New York, and former Justice Department official, Rudolph Giuliani about this incident and the calls it has sparked for tougher handgun control laws."

CBS failed to provide an anti-gun control soundbite or even explain the applicable laws. CNN reported Monday night that federal law proscribes gun purchases by aliens until they've been in the country for three months. If that's so, maybe the problem is not that there aren't enough laws, but that the ones in place aren't being enforced or were ignored by a particular gun seller.

4) When today's (February 25) annual meeting of the Walt Disney Company convenes in Anaheim, The Washington Post reported February 22, "a group of 22 institutional pension funds that hold Disney stock plans to protest" the $771 million compensation package that Disney CEO Michael Eisner could reap over the next ten years. "They intend to withhold their votes for the five management-backed nominees to Disney's board." (Given their small ownership they will fail, but are making a symbolic statement about executive pay.)
Amongst those five directors of the company which owns ABC: former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a liberal Democrat. The February 24 Wall Street Journal reported that "Disney paid Mr. Mitchell $50,000 for his consulting on international business matters in fiscal 1996. His Washington law firm was paid an additional $122,764."
Mitchell, the only member of the board with overt political links, must fit in well. Eisner and Disney shoveled $1,063,050 in soft money to Democrats in 1995-96, but just $296,450 to Republicans according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

5) Around the country some major chains face opposition when they try to open new stores as local residents claim they will destroy the community spirit or ruin a local downtown. Opponents of Wal-Mart, for instance, have generated quite a bit of news coverage.
Two national media names are among those battling the plan of CVS, an east coast pharmacy/convenience store chain, to open a store in DC. CVS plans to convert the MacArthur Theater in the wealthy Palisades section of Northwest DC to a CVS store. More than 2,000 people have signed a petition protesting the move, The Washington Post's "Reliable Sources" column reported on February 21. The two media names: CNN weekend anchor/weekday reporter Jeanne Meserve as well as Heidi Shulman, a long-time NBC News reporter who Clinton appointed last year to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Shulman's husband: Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor.

6) What a difference a magazine makes. Forward a charge about Clinton's sex life and it's ignored -- if it appears in a conservative magazine. But when a liberal magazine makes the same charge, it's news. A couple of weeks ago The New Yorker printed a piece by James Stewart recounting his interviews with James and Susan McDougal of Whitewater fame. Jim McDougal claimed to have overheard a suggestive phone conversation between Susan McDougal and Bill Clinton in 1982 which convinced him that they were having an affair. Stewart reported the charge and Susan McDougal's denial.
CNN and CBS picked up on the charge. On the February 10 Prime News CNN's Bob Franken asserted that Jim McDougal "also says he found out Susan McDougal and the President were having an affair at the time, which Mrs. McDougal has consistently denied." On CBS This Morning that day Bill Plante told viewers: "James McDougal says that his former wife might have another reason for protecting President Clinton. He says he overheard a telephone conversation which suggested to him that his former wife and Mr. Clinton had been having an affair."

As American Spectator Managing Editor Wlady Pleszczynski pointed out to me, his magazine had the story six months ago. In a profile of Betsy Wright in the August 1996 issue, Rebecca Borders cited two sources: former trooper L.D. Brown and former state auditor Julia Hughes Jones.

More evidence of how the Washington media really work. Unlike the White House's fanciful conspiracy theory of an all-powerful right-wing media network, the mainstream press ignore revelations in conservative publications until they are blessed by appearing in a "respectable" outlet.

  -- Brent Baker





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