Reporting Matches Polling; Basketball Baby; Latest NQ
Hume observes that media wouldn't have been distracted by stories about
Sam Ervin, and interest in Dan Burton reflects media bias.
and CBS run pieces on how Republicans no cleaner than Democrats. That's
how polls find the public sees it too.
can't squeeze in a mention of the fundraising scandals, but NBC finds time
for a bumped wedding and a basketball bouncing baby.
March 10 edition of Notable Quotables.
1) Sunday's New York
Times carried a front page story headlined "Critic of White House
ethics Let AT&T Give Him Favors." The story detailed how
Congressman Dan Burton played in an AT&T sponsored golf tournament and
the corporation sponsored a fundraising dinner for Burton who now chairs
"the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, which has
jurisdiction over the agency that will soon award at least $5
billion" in telephone service contracts with the government.
The story led to this exchange on
the March 9 Fox News Sunday between Mara Liasson of NPR and Brit Hume of
Liasson: "And it's even harder to investigate practices that Congress
does themselves. That's the tough thing. Today we see the article about
Hume: "That's a golf junket."
Liasson: "Right, but I'm just saying it's tougher to do this and get
a clean bid at the White House."
Hume: "Well, I must say, Mara, if you go back to the days of
Watergate, the days of the Nixon administration. If somebody published a
story then that said Sam Ervin had been on a golf junket or a law seminar
weekend or something like that it would have lasted a half an hour and the
Washington press would have forgotten about it. The atmosphere is
different when it comes to Republicans."
Indeed, that night on ABC's World
News Sunday anchor Carole Simpson picked up the New York Times story on
the perfectly legal event. Simpson's brief story began with this effort at
equivalence: "The head of the House committee looking into Democratic
fundraising is defending his own fundraising today...."
2) Monday night
the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows all ran stories on the various reports
regarding how the FBI warned the NSC about potential Chinese influence
attempts and whether or not the FBI asked that the information not be
passed on to the President.
Catching up with NBC Nightly News
which ran a Republicans "do it too story" last Thursday on some
legal GOP fundraising techniques, Monday night ABC and CBS aired similar
pieces. Neither cited any examples of the kind of illegal foreign
fundraising ensnaring the Clinton team.
On the March 10 World News
Tonight Peter Jennings announced:
"The cynicism about politics these stories generate shows up on our
latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. For one thing, three-quarters
believe that what the Democrats did to raise money in the last election
campaign is no different from what other Presidents and what the
Republicans have been doing for years."
After mentioning a couple of other poll numbers, Jennings continued:
"Well that everybody does it cynicism will certainly get some
reinforcement from this next report. It is about what Republican
connections were available and at what price."
Here's an excellent illustration
of the media triangle: First, report one side's spin (in this case, that
Republicans do the same thing); Second, take a poll that shows that's what
the public believes; Third, reinforce the poll finding with a story that
matches what the public believes which matches the reporting in the first
So, in the "next
report" to which Jennings referred, Linda Douglass began:
"A review of GOP fundraising letters and documents by ABC News has
found that Republicans have been selling access to their leaders for
Douglass cited a 1995 dinner which offered the opportunity for breakfast
with Bob Dole for $15,000 and, for another $30,000, lunch with Newt
Douglass picked up: "...And what about Republican complaints that
President Clinton degraded the White House by opening its doors to donors?
An analysis of President Bush's schedule shows he also entertained big
donors, known as the Eagles, 18 times in the White House. And in 1988
President Reagan's fundraisers charge admission to one event at the White
Let's see, 18 for Bush and one
for Reagan is no different than about 100 coffees and over 800 overnights?
"Republicans insist what they did was legal and charge some
Democratic fundraising practices may not have been. But Democrats call
that a smoke screen and say that GOP fundraising documents underscore the
need for a wider ranging investigation of both political parties. Linda
Douglass, ABC News, Washington."
A liberal activist couldn't have
written a better script for Douglass.
The CBS Evening News provided the
same news. Bob Schieffer opened his story:
"Dan, Republicans may not have rented out the White House, but
according to some documents we've obtained, they sure didn't mind trying
to sell a little access to key officials."
Schieffer cited the same 1995 dinner, before concluding:
"Those connected with the dinner claim that no laws were broken
there, but in what could be another embarrassment for Republicans a
fundraising letter sent out by Republican Senator Kit Bond has turned up
in which he advises donors to contact him at his Senate office. Bond says
tonight that the address and the phone number were simply placed there by
mistake, that donors should have been referred to party headquarters and
that he never used his Capitol office to raise money, Dan."
What did Brit Hume say about how
a story about Sam Ervin would have been forgotten in a half hour?
Dan Rather moved on to poll
numbers that matched what ABC found: "Okay Bob. A CBS News poll out
tonight suggests growing public awareness, and some growing concern, about
fast and loose campaign fundraising by both parties. Three-quarters of the
people we surveyed said the Democrats' 1996 fundraising practices were
common to Republicans as well. 40 percent said they attach great
importance to the fundraising investigation -- much more so than
Whitewater [on screen: 18%], but a lot less than Watergate crimes of the
Nixon White House [on-screen 53%]."
Only NBC Nightly News picked up
on Monday's Washington Post story on how "the Cheyenne-Arapaho
Indians of Oklahoma kicked in $107,000 to the Democratic National
Committee and hoped the money would help result in favorable Clinton
Administration action on the return of their tribal lands. It didn't
Noting how the DNC later asked
for another $25,000 for inaugural activities, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski
asserted: "Tribal leaders believe they're the victims of what they
call a shakedown."
3) In another
sign of how not all the networks are putting the Clinton fundraising
scandals at the top of the news agenda, Monday's Today did not include a
word about them. Both ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning
found it worth reporting that the FBI warned Senators and Congressmen
about China's efforts to influence the election. Not NBC.
Instead, March 10 Today viewers
were treated to a combinations of topics better suited to Jerry Springer
and a segment of David Letterman's Stupid Human Tricks. In the first hour:
-- Today spent four minutes and fifty seconds on an interview with a
couple whose June wedding has been bumped from Denver's Museum of Natural
History so that the museum can accommodate the G-7 economic summit meeting
in Denver. Ann Curry, filling in for Matt Lauer, began with this inquiry:
"Suzanne, you found out about this conflict, both of you, eleven days
ago and Brad says you cried for hours. What's the worst of it?"
-- Next, Today devoted two minutes and 24 seconds to Katie Couric and Ann
Curry -- this required "team coverage" -- watching a 19-month
old boy dribble a basketball.
An interesting set of priorities
for a "news" show. The latest issue of Notable Quotables runs
below. -- Brent Baker
4) The March 10
edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the
latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. To
subscribe my mail for $19 annually, send an e-mail message to Carey Evans:
About half of these quotes have
appeared in previous CyberAlerts -- which means about half have not and
should be new to you.
March 10, 1997 (Vol. Ten; No. 5)
Work-Nots Before Workers
"But isn't that going to
only exacerbate the feeling, especially in the cities in this country,
that there is a growing schism between the haves and the have nots because
we're going to mandate welfare reform. We're going to mandate a lot of
immigration reform but there's going to be no money that comes in behind
it." -- NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on welfare and immigration reform, to
New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, March 3 MSNBC InterNight.
"[Food] stamps, a blessing,
allowed them [able-bodied adults without children] to purchase about $25
worth of food a week. They would not be able to eat like a President or
member of Congress, but they could have some soup, maybe a little pasta,
some tuna, some beans. They wouldn't starve, and they would have enough
energy to continue looking for a job...After 90 days, the following notice
is to be disseminated: Put down that soup spoon, poor person, the Clinton
administration and the Republican-led Congress are clearing the
table." -- New York Times columnist (and former NBC reporter) Bob
Herbert, February 21.
End Public Cynicism: Lie to Your
"Here was Torricelli defying
such facile media labels ["poll-directed"] with an unpopular
vote against a gaudily wrapped package of constitutional mischief....Why
do political weather vanes sometimes point true north? What prompts a
pragmatic legislator to courageously resist, at the last moment, the siren
song of expediency?...Two freshman Senators, so different in style and
temperament, deserve plaudits for sticking their necks out to block a
constitutional calamity. Despite my cynical doubts, sometimes the system
works." -- USA Today Politics columnist and former Time reporter
Walter Shapiro praising Senators Bob Torricelli and Tim Johnson, who
campaigned for and then voted against the Balanced Budget Amendment, Feb.
Clinton Just Wanted to Get
Larry King on White House
fundraising zeal: "A little Nixonian?" Washington Post reporter
Bob Woodward: "...Well, sure. It was all about raising money, in
part, for Nixon. But it's not Nixonian, because Nixon was clearly a
criminal President. What Clinton wanted to do was be re-elected, and in
that burning desire did he cross a line? Did he kind of open the flood
gates? Well, he did the money, did he watch the boundaries of the law?
We're gonna see." -- Feb. 28 Larry King Live on CNN.
Oh, Everybody Does It
"How can you keep a straight
face when you talk about this President, who is a Democrat, inviting
people to the White House -- big, heavy rollers, contributors -- when the
same thing was done by Republican Presidents?" -- CNN's Bernard Shaw
to U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), February 25 Inside Politics.
"President Clinton's best
defense for any campaign fundraising excesses or irregularities by
Democrats appears to be that the Republicans do it too. And even
more." -- NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, February 19 Today.
Committee documents show that Mr. Gore's appearances at dozens of
fundraisers brought millions into Democratic Party coffers. But White
House aides point out that Vice President Dan Quayle was also a
super-active fundraiser during the Bush years." -- Rita Braver, March
3 CBS Evening News.
"Clinton did not invent a
new system. He milked the old one for all it's worth. But you still don't
have any proof that is illegal...What the Democrats did was modeled after
what the Republicans had done." -- Newsweek contributor Eleanor Clift,
March 1 McLaughlin Group.
"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?" -- New York Times columnist Tom
Friedman to Henry Kissinger, February 23 Face the Nation.
Great Killer's Record Marred by
"Deng Xiaoping. He was one
of the most remarkable and controversial men of the 20th century. An intel-
lectual giant in a tiny frame who helped shape the modern China, from the
long march to the communist revolution to the mix of communist ideology
and free enterprise." -- Tom Brokaw, Feb. 19 NBC Nightly News.
"And finally, there was the
most troublesome shadow of all, Mao Zedong, Deng's friend and foe, his
rival for the soul of a country so ancient it has had the misfortune both
to forget its history many times over and to repeat it again and again.
Only history will decide who was the greater." -- Time Senior Editor
Howard Chua-Eoan and Senior Writer James Walsh, March 3.
"For all of China's economic
success, much of the vast country is still either desperately poor or
suffering from the excesses of runaway capitalism -- or both." --
Newsweek's Bill Powell, March 3.
Only Craig Livingstone Can See
"Remember the outcry from
conservatives eight years ago when the Senate looked at summaries of FBI
reports on John Tower, the unsuccessful nominee for Defense Secretary?
Now, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Shelby wants to go much further,
demanding CIA nominee Tony Lake's raw FBI files. As Senators Dick Lugar
and Bob Kerrey have said, this is outrageous. It's time to end Shelby's
McCarthyite witch-hunt." -- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington
Editor Al Hunt's Outrage of the Week, March 1 Capital Gang.
Plenty of Clinton Scandal
"It seems to be pretty
tough; it seems to be pretty thorough; it seems to be that there's been no
laziness on the part of the media with this one." -- ABC's John
Cochran to independent journalist Marc Morano at a Feb. 27 National Press
Club dinner. ABC did not air a story the night the Gore fundraising story
"There's no question that
[Clinton] had extremely intense scrutiny on this issue. No one can argue
that anybody in the press, right, left, center, above or below, has failed
to cover everything in Whitewater to the maximum extent and continue to do
so. And the same thing with these new and what I consider to be very
serious questions about campaign contributions." -- Dan Rather to
Morano. CBS didn't report the March 4 issuing of subpoenas to White House
staff for documents on hush money payments to Webster Hubbell.
"I think in a way, the press
is paying the price here for the frenzy of some of its past scandals
because the tone of the stories now is identical to that of Travelgate and
Filegate and Mena, Arkansasgate and other things which really didn't go
anywhere in terms of their significance. So I think there is a crying-wolf
problem which we in our business have when it comes to unveiling this sort
of thing." -- U.S. News & World Report Editor James Fallows on
CNBC's Equal Time, February 26.
Rather Hard on Mr. Nuts
"I think it's inappropriate
for our competitors, who have gone through their own incarnations --
including moments like Connie Chung anchoring from Tonya Harding's rink --
to judge us."
"Whenever there is the first
hint of a counter-clockwise symbol on a weather map that a hurricane might
hit land, `Mr. Hard News' is down there wrapped around a lamp post."
-- Tom Brokaw reacting to Dan Rather calling NBC Nightly News "news-lite,"
quoted by Gail Shister in the March 5 Philadelphia Inquirer.
-- L. Brent Bozell III,
Publisher; Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
-- Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen, James Forbes, Steve Kaminski, Clay
Waters; Media Analysts
-- Kathleen Ruff, Marketing Director; Carey Evans, Circulation Manager;
Brian Schmisek, Intern
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