Liberals Promoted at CBS & ABC; Reporter Confronts
- More examples of Clinton stonewalling and more
evidence of database abuse, but networks ignore that while
- Tom Brokaw preposterously reports that the budget
deal cuts spending and he emphasizes that the "tax cuts may
be too generous."
- Washington Post ombudsman Geneva Overholser defines
media elitism. Asked to discuss possibility of bias in reporting,
she tells C-SPAN's Brian Lamb: "I think it's a mistake for me
to be on."
- "Right-wing Republicans" are
"led" by Henry Kissinger. The communists in Russia
control the "hardline, right-wing Duma."
1) No major Clinton scandal developments the last few days, but a
lot of little ones. All ignored by the broadcast networks, but they
didn't miss a chance to highlight Dan Burton's problems.
-- In a May 15 Washington Times story Jerry Seper revealed that
Congressman Gerald Solomon, Chairman of the House Rules Committee,
"asked Commerce Secretary William M. Daley yesterday to explain
briefings in which former Democratic fundraiser John Huang may have
received classified information at 146 separate meetings instead of
the 37 originally claimed or the 109 later acknowledged."
Coverage: Zilch on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening shows.
Seper broke the story, of all the additional Huang briefings, on
April 30. In that story Seper relayed: "Sources close to the
Rules Committee said Mr. Solomon is particularly concerned about
briefings in which Mr. Huang received classified information,
including documents stamped 'secret,' after which telephone logs show
he almost immediately made calls to the Lippo Group....On one of those
occasions, the records show he also scheduled a meeting with Chinese
Coverage back then: Nothing on the broadcast networks, not even on
CNN's Inside Politics.
-- Friday brought two stories related to Clinton Administration
"White House Puts Up Obstacles in Espy Probe: Fights to Keep
Papers from Counsel, Lawyers Say," announced a May 16 Washington
Times headline over an AP dispatch. The AP reported that "the
White House has invoked executive privilege in refusing to turn over
documents from its 1994 ethics review of trips, sports tickets and
other gifts that Espy accepted from large food producers..."
A Friday Washington Post headline announced: "Senator
Criticizes White House Action in Fundraising Probe." While the
dispute over documents between the White House and Dan Burton has
generated some print and weekend talk show discussion, this complaint
came from Fred Thompson. The Post's Bob Woodward learned that Thompson
"called White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles Tuesday to
complain that despite pledges of full cooperation by presidential
aides, his investigators are receiving documents slowly and often with
whole sections, even entire pages, blanked out, the sources
Coverage of the Espy and Thompson stories: Not a word on ABC, CBS
-- The White House line on use of the database continues to
collapse. On Friday Washington Times reporter Paul Bedard revealed
that "The White House apparently merged its list of President
Clinton's social contacts with a larger list of Democratic donors,
despite warnings from the counsel's office, according to newly
released documents turned over to a House oversight panel."
Coverage: Zilch again.
-- "Bhutto Told to Testify in Funds Probe: Pakistani
Subpoenaed on Rep. Burton's Role," read a Saturday Washington
Post headline. The May 17 story reported that Justice Department
investigators wish to talk to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir
Bhutto "about efforts by Rep. Dan Burton to pressure a lobbyist
for her government to raise campaign contributions for him." This
is the story involving Mark Siegel.
Coverage: Stories on Saturday on both the CBS Evening News and
ABC's World News Tonight paired with reports about the independent
counsel lawyer suggesting in a court session that Hillary Clinton
could be indicted.
2) More fallacious budget reporting. On Friday's NBC Nightly News
(May 16), Tom Brokaw announced that the House budget committee had
approved the balanced budget deal. After noting the tax cuts planned,
Brokaw offered this summary of its spending provisions:
"...The plan also contains $325 billion dollars in savings
from cuts in defense and domestic programs. There will be some new
spending involved as well, $32 billion dollars, most of it will go for
education and health care. The Senate budget committee is also
expected to approve the plan on Monday, however NBC's David Bloom is
telling us tonight the administration's financial analysts are already
saying the tax cuts may be too generous for the savings in the budget
if they want to keep it all in balance."
Brokaw encapsulated in a few seconds the most common misreporting
on the budget deal. A viewer would conclude that the plan cuts
spending, with about one-tenth of the amount saved allocated for new
spending, leaving tax cuts as a threat to a balanced budget. Wrong on
all counts, but Brokaw was not alone. "Spending cuts will include
defense, Medicare, Medicaid and housing," insisted Phil Jones the
same night on the CBS Evening News.
In fact, as Heritage Foundation budget analyst Scott Hodge
discovered and reported in a May 12 Heritage Backgrounder,
"non-defense discretionary spending will grow by a cumulative $73
billion over the next five years, and defense spending will receive
about $23 billion in new funding." As for the promised tax cuts,
they amount to "less than one penny for every dollar taxpayers
will send to Washington" as taxpayers "will receive only 67
cents in tax relief for every new dollar of spending."
To read Hodge's report, "The 1997 Budget Agreement: The Return
to Big Government," go to: http://heritage.org/heritage/library/categories/budgettax/
3) Newspapers hire ombudsmen to give serious consideration to
reader complaints and to evaluate how the newspaper performs. Last
Friday's performance on C-SPAN by Washington Post ombudsman Geneva
Overholser suggests the placement agency made a mistake. Appearing
with MRC Chairman Brent Bozell, the former Editor of the Des Moines
Register thought it beneath her to even consider the concept of
A caller to Friday morning's Washington Journal program (May 16)
asked about the lack of Washington Post coverage of how Clinton knew
earlier than he admitted about the charges against Webster Hubbell.
Overholser responded by conceding that the Post "under-covered
that story, I agree."
Here's an unedited, full transcript, as completed by MRC intern
Jessica Anderson, of the discussion that ensued:
Brent Bozell, Chairman of the MRC, observed: "If the Post
under-covered that story, that's one of the stories, that is one of
the stories that the Post has under-covered, but I'm going to stress,
I mean, I'm sounding like an apologist for your paper and I apologize
for that, the Post has done a very good job in covering, in covering
this overall. I think that they have been, in some senses, remarkable,
not just in reporting stories, but in investigating stories, and so
has The L.A. Times and so has The Washington Times. Again I go back to
this: Where are the networks? Where are their great investigative
reporters? Where are these people who tell you they're going to get to
the truth of a story? They don't even cover something when The
Washington Post puts it on the front page for them to cover on the
Brian Lamb turned to Overholser: "Is it a political decision,
or is it a ratings decision?"
Now, keeping in mind how Bozell had just praised her paper and
hadn't even mentioned political bias, read her reply to Lamb. Unable
to accept his praise, she complained:
"You know, I'm uncomfortable with the format of this. I
realize that it's probably not good for me to be on it. Everything we
do turns to some ideological point. In fact, I'd rather just talk
about the media, so Brent, you're quite skilled at turning every
single thing, and I don't like it."
Bozell then gently raised the possibility of bias at the networks,
not even at Overholser's employer: "No, no, I'm making an
observation of fact, I'm making an observation of fact that on a
nightly basis this is happening. Is it that the media, is it that
there's no ideology in this at all, that it's simply a decision that
one is news and the other one isn't?"
Lamb pressed her for a response: "Let me just ask you that
question: Is it, in your opinion, not an ideological decision?"
Overholser: "As I said before, I don't think you should be
amazed that newspapers are breaking news better than network
television is. It's always been true and ever it will be true, in my
opinion. I don't think it has to do with ideology."
Lamb, sensing her discomfort, inquired: "Let me go back to
your point about, I don't know why the two of you are together because
I don't put the show together, but, I mean, I don't, and there is a
difference in your roles in life. You [Brent] used to be the [finance]
chairman of the Buchanan for President, in 1992. Have you ever been in
Overholser, less than grateful for her C-SPAN booking, shot back:
"No, I wouldn't be in politics. I'm a journalist, I've been a
journalist all my life and I'm very uncomfortable with having all
these ideological discussions. I don't, I'm not here to defend an
ideology and I really don't, you know, I think it's a mistake for me
to be on."
A first. A C-SPAN guest upset by an opportunity to discuss the
issues on TV's most genteel network. The mistake is to have as an
ombudsman someone so stuck in an Ivory Tower that she thinks it's
beneath her to even be in the same room with someone who is not a
"journalist." As a C-SPAN caller noted, to discuss media
coverage of politics without considering ideological bias is like
talking about Navy operations without mentioning the ocean.
4) New York Times foreign policy columnist Tom Friedman, a
long-time reporter, isn't exactly in touch with who conservatives
consider part of their movement. Discussing NATO expansion to include
Hungary and the Czech Republic, on Friday's Washington Week in Review,
"This is not a done deal at all. You're going to find a lot of
opposition from a lot of different trends. The isolationists are going
to say wait a minute, we're not sending troops or our nuclear umbrella
to defend Prague, basically, that's going to be one line. Right-wing
Republicans, maybe even led by Henry Kissinger, are going to say you
just gave away the store to the Russians..."
Right-wing Republicans "led" by Henry Kissinger?
In the same discussion Friedman noted that Russian parliament
members upset by the NATO expansion may retaliate by not ratifying
START. Friedman asserted:
"You've got a basically, hardline, right-wing Duma, largely,
not largely but a strong communist, I'm not sure a majority but a
So, how do the media define "right-wing"? The term is
applied to everyone from anti-government militia groups in the U.S. to
those opposing NATO expansion to Henry Kissinger to communists in
Russia who want total government control over everything. Let me
suggest a pattern: if the media think you are bad, then you are
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