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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| April 21, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 53) |


Posting Bail for Newt; Liberal Bias Has Passed

1.  Network analysts claim the Gingrich-Dole deal looks bad. Newsweek's Evan Thomas says Dole has become "an influence peddler so he can post bail for Newt Gingrich."

2.  Clinton nominates for a plumb ambassadorial post the mother of a network star who claimed Gingrich got a special deal.

3.  Post mistakenly reports that incivility in the House increased after the GOP takeover, but it really shot up in 1993.

4.  Nixonites dominate the media and Murdoch "owns pretty much every newspaper in the country." Ludicrous assertions on ABC.

1) Newt Gingrich admitted he did wrong and agreed to pay back the ethics committee for the cost of investigating him. The President admits nothing as each new assertion is disproved by revelations and no one calls for him to pay investigatory costs. Instead of focusing on the larger picture of how taking Bob Dole's loan meant Gingrich was going to pay the $300,000 himself, much of the media claimed the deal looked bad to the public, an idea they helped foster.

On Inside Washington over the weekend liberal columnist Jack Germond noted of the Bonier attacks on Gingrich's deal: "I think the Democrats look like fools when they attack him." That didn't stop his media colleagues. Here are some media comments from over the weekend:

-- Friday, April 18 Good Morning America:
Cokie Roberts: "I think the real problem with it is not anything illegal or unethical. I think that it is people will look at it in the same way that they looked at the House banking scandal -- which was not illegal -- and say 'oh there they go in Washington again, everybody just taking care of each other.' And it contributes to that whole view that everybody inside of Washington is in cahoots."

Charlie Gibson: "Cokie, does it pass muster? The ethics committee was trying to penalize the Speaker, to make him pay a penalty. And now he doesn't have to re-pay anything for eight years. This loan isn't called until the year 2005, so does this pass muster in what the committee wanted to do?"

(Roberts answered that it passed muster with those who counted, the House Republicans. For more on Roberts and her institutional bias that might explain her insistence that nothing illegal happened in the House bank scandal, see item #2 below.)

-- Saturday, April 19 NBC Nightly News. John Palmer reported on reaction to the deal from Gingrich's district when Gingrich spoke to a Republican gathering. After a soundbite from Gingrich referring to Democratic critics as a "small band of destructive people," Palmer continued:

"But the terms of the law are still raising questions."

Ronald Faucheux, Editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine: "I think the idea that you don't have to pay anything back for eight years and he didn't have to come up with any personal money out of his personal checkbook, I think it re-enforces the notion that people in power get special deals."

Palmer: "A former member of the ethics committee, which imposed the sanction, thinks the loan terms are too generous."

U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer, (D) Ohio: "The kinds of arrangements that may have been made out of friendship in this case, or for some other reason, would probably not be available to most American citizens."

Palmer: "Some Clinton administration officials also question the loan arrangements, but the official word from here is: that's a matter for Congress to settle. John Palmer, NBC News, the White House."

Nice to know NBC feels it's important to report that the White House "questions" the loan. The White House doesn't believe in loans: it gets people to give money to friends.

-- On the McLaughlin Group, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift asserted: "It's another example of a politician getting a deal that the ordinary person can't get...."

-- On Sunday's This Week Sam Donaldson displayed a bit of honesty about his lack of impartiality toward Gingrich:

"I wanted to find a way to jump all over him. I couldn't. I think it's probably not a bad solution and I think it's probably okay."

-- On CNN's Late Edition Steve Roberts, now with the New York Daily News and formerly with U.S. News and the New York Times, complained:

"Bob Dole is not a lobbyist, but he's about to work for one of the biggest, most high-powered lobbying firms in town, including one that's representing tobacco interests in these negotiations. Do we really want a Speaker of the House who owes $300,000 to a guy's who's a principle in a major lobbying firm? Also, I do think that he reminded me a little bit of Bill Clinton frankly in his talk. He says I'm taking responsibility, but really it was my lawyer's fault. Grow up Newt. Take responsibility. Don't put it off on other people."

Tony Blankley then pointed out that Gingrich is encumbering himself with a personal debt up to $640,000 if he waits to pay it off.

-- On Inside Washington, NPR's Nina Totenberg tried to have it both ways: "I don't see anything really awful about the deal, but it, to normal people it sort of has an odor about it. The cab drivers I had this week all thought there was something not quite right here."

Jack Germond countered: "I hate to be in the position of defending Newt Gingrich on anything, but I don't see any odor about this at all. I mean the fact is the terms he got were not any different than the terms other people can get if they have a reasonable expectation of making well on the money."

Evan Thomas, Newsweek's former Washington Bureau Chief, then took a shot at Dole: "It's not so much that it's bad for Gingrich, but it's weird for, I mean Bob Dole, look at, Bob Dole fails to become President of the United States, leader of the free world, continue his life of service. Instead he's become an influence peddler so he can post bail for Newt Gingrich."

2) As for Cokie Robert's assertion that nothing illegal transpired in the House bank scandal, she may be showing the institutional bias of a daughter of two Members. President Clinton, in fact, has just picked her mother for a sought after post. The Washington Post's Al Kamen reported in his "In the Loop" column on Friday:

"President Clinton has selected former Representative Lindy Boggs (D-La.), a leader in women's rights legislation during her 18 years in the House, to be the first woman to be U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

"Boggs, 81, took over the House seat held by her late husband, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-La.), after he and others disappeared in a small plane over Alaska in 1972. She's the mother of powerhouse lobbyist Tommy Bogs and ABC-TV and National Public Radio reporter Cokie Roberts."

3) Wishful memories or thinking at The Washington Post? In a story Friday (April 18) on Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of the Annenberg School of Communication, testifying about incivility in the House, reporter Guy Gugliotta wrote:

"Jamieson noted that in the past, members most often used the word 'liar' to describe our 'foreign enemies.' But recently, she continued, things were closer to home and there had been a 'spike upward' in calling each other names since the GOP Congress arrived in 1995."

Saturday's Post carried a correction, noting the article "incorrectly said that incidents of members calling each other 'liar' had 'spiked upward' with the Republican takeover of the House in 1995. The 'spike' occurred in the Democratic Congress of 1993."

4) Politically Incorrect, the ABC talk show aired after Nightline, took up liberal bias on Thursday night (April 17). MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen caught this denial from author Richard Reeves, the former chief political correspondent for the New York Times:

"You know, if you look at the most influential people in the American press, if you made a list of Diane Sawyer, Bill Safire, John McLaughlin, David Gergen, Pat Buchanan, what they have in common was they were all, every one of them was on Richard Nixon's staff at the same time. That's the liberal conspiracy that you're..." [he's cut off by other panelists]

And none but Sawyer is a reporter.

A bit earlier, host Bill Maher had introduced the segment by arguing liberal bias is a thing of the past:

"So what about the way the media handles a thing like this? Do you think, now I hear this all the time, I've been hearing this for years that there's a liberal bias to the media, and maybe there was at some point, but do you think nowadays, most of the people I read, or at least I like to read, George Will, William Safire, Buckley, Rupert Murdoch, a very conservative man, owns pretty much every newspaper in the country. Do you think that's a strawman, that's sort of like past its point of reality?"

Here is the full list of all the newspapers in the U.S. owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation:

New York Post

Yes, it's a list of one. A bit short of owning "pretty much every newspaper in the country." (At the height of Murdoch's U.S, newspaper empire in the mid-'80s, he owned the Post plus dailies in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio, well short of the widespread ownership of Knight-Ridder and the New York Times Company.)

Another example of the paranoid fear that Murdoch instills in the hearts of liberals.

  -- Brent Baker





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