Copy of: MRC
Alert: ABC Catches Up; Zahn Zaps Welfare; New Poll
night ABC finally reported the Maggie Williams story, and Eric Engberg
offered another opinionated Reality Check.
Paula Zahn wondered if welfare reform will derail Detroit's supposed
"We Stand by Our Story" Westin takes over ABC News; a former CBS
executive says ABC was unfair to Food Lion.
new poll found that most think journalists tilt left, but the finding was
actress gushes over Clinton: "He's an incredibly brilliant person but
he also has a huge compassionate heart."
Letterman's show: "Top Ten Ways Al Gore Tried to Raise Money for the
Clinton's Friday press conference generated stories on all the networks.
ABC's World News Tonight finally caught up with CBS and NBC and ran a
story telling viewers about Maggie Williams accepting a $50,000 check on
White House grounds -- a story covered two days earlier on CBS and NBC.
On the CBS
Evening News, Rita Braver recounted the highlights of the press
conference. Eric Engberg then offered a "Reality Check" piece on
Janet Reno's conclusion that it would be illegal to accept a donation for
a candidate on federal property, but it is okay to accept a soft money
party check. Engberg concluded with the kind of opinionated analysis for
which he has become infamous, though in a departure from the norm his
target was not a conservative:
wacky, but accepting a $100 buck regular donation for a candidate while in
the Lincoln Bedroom can send a fundraiser to the slammer, but if it were a
$100,000 check for the party's soft money account that's OK in the view of
the Justice Department and many outside lawyers too. Such is the state of
campaign law -- out of date and outsmarted by the political sharpies. So,
prosecutions may not be possible, which doesn't make the stench go away.
Eric Engberg, CBS News, Washington."
The networks are not employing much entrepreneurial reporting on the
scandal front. Without a major newspaper breaking a story on Saturday,
March 9 that day's CBS Evening News did not mention the fundraising
Anchor Paula Zahn,
however, did forward the liberal spin on welfare reform. Last year before
Clinton signed the bill, Zahn ominously intoned on the August 1 Evening
News: "The new, landmark welfare overhaul President Clinton promised
to sign won't be law for awhile yet, but there is already is a great deal
of fear and anxiety all over the country over the impact it will
later Zahn still promotes the same liberal spin. CBS aired a story on how
Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer is successfully revitalizing his city by
bringing development downtown. Zahn then interviewed the Mayor. Her first
fact that cities and states are going to have to absorb more of the
welfare burden, could that potentially derail some of the progress you
have made in downtown Detroit?"
On Friday ABC created a new position of ABC News Chairman for Roone
Arledge, the news division President since 1977. The new ABC News
President: David Westin, the President of the ABC Television Network
Group. Westin moves from being Arledge's boss to reporting to Arledge.
staffers should be pleased with the move since in the Food Lion case
Westin, like Arledge, demonstrated little interest in exploring the
accuracy of the story. In the 2 and a half hours the network devoted on
February 12 to the case they never let Food Lion present its video case,
allowing the food chain time just for a two-minute statement. Westin
provided ABC's official response, which concluded:
we did in 1992, we stand by the truth and the integrity of our Food Lion
report. We have an obligation to tell the truth to our audience, and we
take that obligation seriously."
When the Fox News
Channel showed some of Food Lion's video of excerpts from ABC's original
45 hours of tape on January 22, the day of the punitive verdict, Westin
reacted with outrage. He told the New York Times:
"I find it
outrageously unfair that a news organization would proceed that way. The
tape that Food Lion presented is a gross distortion of what actually
So much for
searching for the truth.
executive realized that ABC's February 12 Prime Time Live and Viewpoint
stacked the deck against Food Lion. The February 17 Electronic Media
relayed observations from Erik Sorenson, formerly the Executive Producer
of the CBS Evening News and now Executive VP of Court TV. Electronic
Media's Jon Lafayette wrote:
said that over the course of the broadcast, Food Lion lost" the
argument over their contention that ABC deceptively edited the undercover
video and staged scenes. Lafayette continued: "While Food Lion's
statement was strong, 'what can you do without video,' he said. At the
same time, ABC showed enough of the original story to get anyone thinking
of eating Food Lion food sick."
The March 2 Parade magazine cover story summarized a Roper Center survey
conducted in conjunction with the Freedom Forum to promote the opening of
the Freedom Forum's Newseum. The Parade article listed a couple dozen of
the questions and answers, but only one vaguely touched on bias: "52
percent think the news is too biased."
MRC news analyst
Clay Waters dug out a nugget in the full survey summary (available on the
Newseum Web site) that Parade skipped over. Note the third point in this
sentence: "Majorities also say they have at least some concern that
journalists too often quote unnamed sources (58%), that there is too
little coverage of international news (55%), and that journalists favor
the liberal point of view (53%)."
That the Freedom
Forum and Parade didn't highlight this last finding is no surprise once
you look at the five options those polled got for the question "How
much of the time is news reporting improperly influenced by..." The
choices: "Media desire to make profits," "Interests of
corporate media owners," "Advertisers," "Big
business," and "Elected officials."
results can be read at: http://www.newseum.org
Clinton friend and donor, actress Mary Steenburgen, was among those
staying overnight in the White House. She's quite impressed with his
combination of brilliance and passion. Here's an exchange from her March 6
appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman:
"Tell me about Bill. Is he a decent guy or is he a thieving crook?
Because you know you get two versions of this."
"Oh I know. It's kind of nice that somebody actually asks someone who
actually knows them as opposed to all the people I watch talking about
them who never met him. He's one of my favorite people in the world. He's
an incredibly brilliant person but he also has a huge compassionate heart
and those things don't usually go together. And he's a fanatic problem
Letterman, below is a fairly amusing, though not up to Letterman's
potential, Top Ten List from the same night's Letterman show. -- Brent
Top Ten Ways Al Gore Tried to Raise Money for the Democratic Party, from
the March 6 Late Show with David Letterman. Copyright 1997 by Wide World
10. Competed in
pay-per-view "Ultimate Fighting" match against Janet Reno.
9. For six
months, did nothing but check pay phones for quarters.
8. Secretly sold
the entire state of New Jersey to the Swedes.
7. Signed a deal
to turn the Bill of Rights into "The Frito Lay Bill of Rights."
6. Made a quick
$300,000 by returning Ted Kennedy's empties.
5. For $20, let
people sign their names to the Declaration of Independence.
4. Got Iraqi
spies drunk and sold them the blueprints for a hair dryer.
3. Asked Hillary
for a few investment tips.
Lincoln bedroom with coin-operated condom machine.
1. Vice President
by day, Hollywood hooker by night.
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