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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| April 18, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 52) |


CBS Cites Newt-Dole Tobacco Connection; Latest NQ

1.  CBS twice raises issue of "tobacco connection to the Gingrich- Dole loan deal," but the "connection" is more Democratic.

2.  You can't even escape liberal bias on old news re-cap shows as MSNBC offers a little historic revisionism on Reaganomics.

3.  April 21 edition of Notable Quotables: Bashing Burton, hailing Hubbell and praising very un-Limbaugh talk radio.

1) All the networks featured stories Thursday night (April 17) on the Dole loan to Gingrich to pay the Speaker's $300,000 penalty, but only the CBS Evening News led with the development.

In his story CBS reporter Bob Schieffer noted: "It set off a row on the House floor when Democrats noticed a newspaper story that Dole was joining a law firm that works for tobacco companies."

Schieffer then showed a soundbite from Democratic U.S. Rep. George Miller of California as he held up the front page of Thursday's USA Today: "We now have the chief lobbyist for big tobacco financing the payoff of the Speaker's fine for lying to the Congress."

Schieffer, without commenting on the charge, continued: "Ignoring that allegation, Dole called it a personal gesture."

After Schieffer completed his story, substitute anchor Paula Zahn introduced the next report: "The suggestion of some kind of tobacco connection to the Gingrich-Dole loan deal comes as the tobacco industry is reportedly working on a $300 billion deal to settle government and private health lawsuits..."

No wonder so many people buy into wild conspiracy theories. Here you have a major network forwarding as credible the flimsiest of links between two facts: a) Dole is hired by a huge law firm that represents, according to The Washington Post, 90 Fortune 500 companies. Among them, some companies that produce cigarettes. b) Dole loans money to Gingrich.

Therefore, Gingrich will follow tobacco's marching orders.

The "tobacco connection" did not make the ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News or CNN World Today stories. But on CNN's Inside Politics, Candy Crowley also featured the Miller bite. But she added a key bit of information to put the partisan charge in context.

Crowley reported: "A source close to Dole says he was against the speaker getting a bank loan, arguing that every time a banking bill came up, Democrats would raise a stink. Still, where there is politics, there is uproar of one kind or another."

George Miller: "We now have the chief lobbyist for big tobacco financing the payoff of the Speaker's fine for lying to Congress."

Crowley: "Dole has just joined a law firm, and while there are tobacco accounts, the point people are former Senator George Mitchell, former Governor Ann Richards, who are both Democrats."

Mitchell and Richards aren't the only Democrats at the law firm, it's dominated by them. In an April 10 Washington Post story on Dole's new job, reporter Saundra Torry noted that Dole "agreed to join" a firm "that is stocked with several heavy-hitting Democrats -- Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand." Later, Torry added: "Dole will give Republican balance to Verner, Liipfert's Democratic bench. It includes former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (Maine), who joined the firm in 1994, and former vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen"

2) Sit back, relax, watch a little history unfold on cable and you can avoid liberal bias. Not so with MSNBC's Time & Again, the cable channel's 10pm/2am ET, 7pm/11pm PT show hosted by Jane Pauley which uses old NBC News video to recount past news events.

The April 10 edition reviewed the assassination attempt on President Reagan. Near the end, MSNBC showed a clip from Reagan's address to Congress in which he outlined his economic proposals. Jane Pauley then asserted:

"Congress, though controlled by Democrats, passed Reagan's plan less than four months later. The bill, as passed, provided for almost $38 billion in tax cuts, but because there were insufficient corresponding spending cuts, Reaganomics meant unprecedented deficits for years to come."

As any student of the 1980s knows, federal revenue grew faster than inflation (an average of 8 percent from 1982 to 1989), but social spending was not only not cut, it soared much faster. As noted by Ed Rubenstein in his Right Data book for National Review:

"Since 1980, aggregate federal tax revenues have grown 111 percent. Had revenues grown at the rate of inflation, the government would have collected $225 billion fewer dollars in 1992. Congress spent the additional money, and then some....The Republican record 1980-92: Social welfare spending rose 44 percent. Defense spending rose 30 percent."

3) The April 21 edition of Notable Quotables, the Media Research Center's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

Of this edition's 14 quotes, nine have not previously run in CyberAlerts, so there's a lot of fresh material here. Two quotes make my must read list: 1) Under "Happy Band of Whitewater Whitewashers," we run a quote caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens in which Mortimer Zuckerman refers to Clintonistas as "a happy band of brothers." 2) Under "How About a 100 Percent Tax on Ink for Moronic Columns," we run a quote noticed by MRC analyst Clay Waters from a former New York Times Editor who advocates a 100 percent tax on political ads. Quite the First Amendment advocate. I'd suggest a 100 percent tax on Macy's ads in his newspaper in order to buy ads for store owners who cannot afford advertising. The NQ issue follows below. -- Brent Baker

April 21, 1997 (Vol. Ten; No. 8)

Let's Discredit Investigations in Advance

Peter Jennings: "When we come back, two investigations of fundraising abuse, two of them on Capitol Hill. Is it a waste of time and money?"

John Cochran: "....But they don't want to get together. The easy-going Thompson, who may have presidential aspirations, says it's important to be as tough on Republicans as Democrats....But Dan Burton is a hard-charging partisan and has resisted investigating anyone but Democrats....So although Congress complains a lot about too much duplication in government, we'll be seeing double when the House and Senate begin months of dueling hearings into campaign fundraising." -- ABC's April 10 World News Tonight.

"The UFO comparison is apt in his case. He is considered flaky and a bit of a crackpot, even though a nice guy. Some crackpots are nice." -- Time columnist Margaret Carlson on House Government Operations Committee Chairman Dan Burton, referring to Hillary Clinton's comment that attention to Whitewater "reminds me of some people's obsession with UFO's and the Hale-Bopp comet." April 12 CNN Capital Gang.

"I mean, it's an interesting juxtaposition between Representative Burton, a Republican from Indiana, who is sort of like the Republicans' wacky aunt stuck down in the basement. You don't want to let her out in front of the guests." -- Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren, CNN's Capital Gang, April 13.

"Burton is a car wreck waiting to happen. He's got real problems himself on campaign fundraising. Some lobbyist accused him of trying to extort money from him. The Justice Department's on the case. Burton is, shall we say, a complicated guy. He once, I think, said he wanted to nuke Iraq to avoid the Kuwait War. I mean, he's got all sorts of problems. It's great for the White House to take the press attention away from a serious, sober congressional hearing and put it on Burton." -- Newsweek's Evan Thomas, April 12 Inside Washington.

Impolite to Point Out China's Communist

"Republicans call this money `a direct slap at those brave young Americans who spilled their blood defending freedom.' China is referred to as 'Red China.' Why not just call it 'China'? Why 'Red China'?" -- Reporter Phil Jones to the National Republican Senatorial Committee's Steve Law, Apr. 4 CBS Evening News.

"This fundraising letter that your organization has put out, raising what was described as a Red scare, making the accusation that the Clinton White House, quote, 'sold for illegal foreign cash,' was sold for illegal foreign cash...and that included money from 'Red China, which still considers itself a communist country.' You were criticized by the Democrats for raising this Red scare. Any second thoughts about this kind of letter, which apparently was very successful, though, in raising funds for your Senatorial Campaign Committee?" -- CNN's Wolf Blitzer to Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Inside Politics, April 5.

The Caricature Will Remain -- We Keep Reinforcing It

"In fact, the Speaker will forever remain his own caricature -- a Dennis the Menace meets Darth Vader kind of guy. A fellow who, for instance, wants to give all children in America laptops but take away their free school lunches." -- U.S. News & World Report Assistant Managing Editor Gloria Borger, April 7.

"The Republicans in Congress had shown a nasty streak about Medicare and Medicaid that most Americans wanted no part of; Gingrich was no longer amusing as Newt the Menace, and was now seen as the Bad Seed...Clinton thus positioned himself not so much against Dole as against Gingrich, now viewed by the public as the blistering ideologue who had gleefully shut down the government twice in the budget battles of late 1995 and early 1996." -- Unbylined dispatches from Time's 1996 Year in Review book.

Tom Hayden: Nasty As He Wants to Be

"It would [be] easy to poke fun at the gonzo tactics of this former '60s radical, former husband of Jane Fonda, former comrade of Cesar Chavez turned 15-year veteran of the state assembly, where he has crusaded on behalf of gun control, the environment, and his view of social justice. But it would also be wrong." -- New York Times reporter Todd Purdum, after noting Hayden accused his opponent, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, of being a "racist" and being complicit in the death of a subway worker, April 4.

Happy Band of Whitewater Whitewashers

"I think we really have to look at the context. A lot of the so-called FOBs, Friends of Bill's, were really getting their clocks cleaned. And there was perhaps his closest friend and one of Hillary's closest associates who is now really out on the street. I mean he resigned. He had no law practice. He had no income. And these are people who really, you know, these are people who go back years and decades, and I think there is at least as much reason to believe that compassion motivated them as much as anything else...this is sort of a group of people who came here as a happy band of brothers and were getting, you know, knocked off one by one." -- U.S. News Editor-in-Chief Mortimer Zuckerman on CNBC's Hardball, April 7.

"On Hubbell, you know, I think there's a real chance that there's less there than meets the eye. At least nothing illegal. A) Hubbell at the time was only accused of some kind of billing impropriety with this law firm which that then didn't seem like a big deal. We didn't know he was a congenital cheat back then. Secondly, there were a dozen people or more who tried to help him. If it was a hush money conspiracy as Ken Starr, the special counsel, suggests, that's too many people to have involved. Moreover, the effort by [Erskine] Bowles was pretty passive. He didn't even succeed. And see, no one has adequately explained what Hubbell was trying, was being hushed up from saying." -- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, April 5.

Angry Diatribes Okay, If They're on Liberal NPR

"Mike from Cambridge was calling from his car phone this morning to tell two United States Senators just how mad he was about the latest campaign fundraising mess....'We're in danger of losing our democracy or even our liberty unless we take action to correct it.' Rush Limbaugh it wasn't. The callers to WBUR, a National Public Radio affiliate here, sounded more like articulate university professors rather than angry citizens ready to take on the system." -- New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt, March 26.

How About a 100 Percent Tax on Ink for Moronic Columns

"The market way to fairness is to impose a hefty tax on political TV advertising. Paul Taylor, an energetic reformer, urges a tax of 50 percent. He would use the proceeds to underwrite vouchers, to be distributed among political parties and candidates for the purchase of TV time in any market. That's a halfway measure. Better yet, in my view, would be a 100 percent surcharge on every political TV and radio commercial to pay for an opponent's immediate response in the same market, to the same audience. A stiff tax would assure that the more a candidate spent on TV, the greater the subsidy for his or her rivals." -- Former New York Times Executive Editor Max Frankel in The New York Times Magazine, March 30.

Cronkite: America Loves Liberals

"[Mario] Cuomo was a rare combination: an intellectual and a spellbinding orator. I would have bet that he could have won the Democratic nomination and been elected to the presidency. He had electrified the 1984 Democratic convention with his keynote speech, and I never saw him fail to excite those who shared his liberal vision of America's future. Despite the pollsters and political operators' contrary opinions, I remain convinced that the public was ready for a leader who could restore that vision after the selfish eighties. I don't believe the public has rejected liberalism; it simply has not heard a candidate persuasively advocate its humane and deeply democratic principles." -- Walter Cronkite in his book A Reporter's Life.

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
Kristina Sewell, Research Associate
Carey Evans, Circulation Manager
Brian Schmisek, Intern

  -- Brent Baker





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