System's the Problem; Save NEA; Top GOPer Denies Media Bias
- Two of three
Monday morning shows skipped the hearings and all three ignored
them Monday night, but ABC wonders why public not paying
- The system
not law breakers are the problem "What's legal is corrupt as
well." And "It's about a rotten system."
- Cut NEA
funding? "Mind-boggling," declares David Broder.
"The domestic version of 'the Commies are coming,'" says
- A top
Republican declares as "out of bounds" a letter pointing
out the impact of liberal media bias.
1) Two out three morning
shows on Monday ignored the fundraising hearings as did all three
broadcast network evening shows, though they offered coverage with a
slant over the weekend.
Morning shows on Monday,
-- ABC's Good Morning America ran a brief item from news reader
Elizabeth Vargas at 7am and a q&a with Vargas and reporter Linda
Douglass at 8am, the MRC's Jessica Anderson informed me. Vargas and
Douglass discussed the controversy over whether Fred Thompson went too
far in his opening day comments about China.
-- CBS This Morning:
For the third weekday morning in a row, MRC analyst Steve Kaminski
determined, CBS skipped the fundraising topic.
-- NBC's Today, which
didn't utter a word about the hearings on Friday, Saturday or Sunday,
went a fourth morning, and second weekday morning in a row, without
mentioning fundraising. Monday's Today didn't have time for
fundraising, but news reader Ann Curry assured viewers:
"President Clinton wants to give Americans a security blanket so
genetic testing can't be used against them." NBC aired a full
story on "Stork parking" spaces close to stores for new and
expectant mothers. Andrea McCarren relayed: "Two years ago the
manager of an Atlanta supermarket was intrigued when he learned the
concept was practiced in Cuba."
-- Golf bumped NBC Nightly News in the east on Saturday and Sunday,
but Monday's edition did not include a syllable about the hearings.
Nightly News did, however, make time for a full story from David Bloom
on White House complaints about how digitally altered video of Clinton
appears in the movie "Contact."
-- The CBS Evening News on
Saturday aired a story from Phil Jones on what anchor Paula Zahn
dubbed an "underwhelming" first week of hearings. On Sunday,
anchor Sharyl Attkisson read a short item on the appearance of Ty
Cobb, John Huang's lawyer, on Face the Nation.
Monday's Evening News led
with the release of the autopsy report on JonBenet Ramsey, but didn't
raise the hearings.
-- ABC's World News
Tonight on Saturday, MRC analyst Gene Eliasen noted, skipped the
fundraising hearings. On Sunday, ABC ran a story on charges that
Thompson went too far when he asserted that the Chinese tried to buy
influence. "New ammunition for the Democrats and new criticism of
the head of the Senate's campaign finance hearings," announced
anchor Carole Simpson before Deborah Weiner's story which highlighted
how U.S. News & World Report found that most Chinese money went to
legal activities, like lobbying. After Weiner, Simpson plugged an
upcoming piece from Jeff Greenfield: "A look at why average
Americans seem to be paying so little attention to the campaign
finance hearings, later on World News Tonight Sunday."
Could it be because the
networks alternate days between ignoring them and dismissing, instead
of pursuing, any allegations that flow from the hearings?
Let's review how ABC's
World News Tonight has "covered" the hearings so far:
- Monday, July 7: zilch
- Tuesday, July 8: Unlike
CBS and NBC, ABC does not lead with hearings, instead airing two
stories first on the Fen Phen diet drug.
- Wednesday, July 9: Led
with poll showing Clinton with a high approval rating. The story
mentioned the hearings, but did not include any soundbites from
witness Richard Sullivan.
- Thursday, July 10: Devoted
41 seconds to Senator Sam Brownback mimicking a Chinese dialect,
but just 23 seconds to a vague hearings update.
- Friday, July 11: nothing
- Saturday, July 12: no
- Sunday, July 13: Story on
how Fred Thompson's Chinese influence charge is not supported and
a story on "why average Americans seem to be paying so little
attention to the campaign finance hearings."
- Monday, July 14: nothing
2) More evidence that the
fundraising scandal isn't about identifying who broke the law but
about "reforming" a "corrupt" system made those
poor Clinton people do those things that everyone else does too. MRC
analyst Clay Waters caught these two comments from CNN's July 12
-- Margaret Carlson of
Time: "It's never going to end until there's some kind of reform.
And just because what Clinton did is, may be illegal, doesn't mean the
whole thing doesn't have to be looked at. Because what's legal is
corrupt as well."
-- Al Hunt of the Wall
Street Journal: "I will agree with you if you will agree there's
a Republican tactic which says 'the whole thing is about illegalities.
It's not about a rotten system.' It's about a rotten system."
3) The National Endowment for
the Arts has some allies in the media who are indignant that
conservatives would dare to reduce its funding. The House may replace
the NEA appropriation with block grants.
-- On Friday's (July 11)
Washington Week in Review on PBS Washington Post reporter David Broder
"The Senate will restore
the money and in the end, given the closeness of the House vote, I
think the NEA will probably survive. I find it, I have to say
personally, mind-boggling that a nation with our wealth and standing
in the world cannot make some kind of contribution, as a nation, to
sustaining the arts and to bringing the arts to communities and to
people who don't, otherwise, have them."
-- Here's an exchange from
the July 13 CNN Late Edition between Steve Roberts of the New York
Daily News and Time magazine's Margaret Carlson:
"Well, this is, I'll tell ya, this is the domestic version of
'the Commies are coming.' The Republicans love this issue because they
get to say 'pornography,' they get to say..."
about crucifixes in urine. They get to call out all of the old
cultural warfare stuff. I don't think the country's buying this
anymore than they're buying the Chinese communists line."
Quite an enlightening
examination of the proper role of government in arts funding.
4) But don't worry, liberal
bias really isn't a problem impeding conservative policies. At least
according to one top Republican official. In the July 14 Washington
Post, reporter Howard Kurtz quoted from a recent fundraising letter
sent by a conservative group:
"The national news media
has become an extension of the liberals in Congress and the Clinton
administration....Our nation can't survive under a big media liberal
monopoly....Many in the liberal media did everything they could to
make conservatives lose the 1994 elections....Left-wing journalism
professors are training their new crop of media radicals....I've seen
firsthand how the news media can twist conservative programs and
misrepresent them to the American people." [Ellipses as presented
Hardly the nuanced tone of a
well-reasoned CyberAlert, but as direct mail letters go, a pretty
rational outline of how conservatives view the media. Who could object
to this letter sent by the Leadership Institute to raise money for its
school to train conservatives in broadcasting skills? Senate Majority
Leader Trent Lott, whose signature appeared at the end of the letter.
Lott, Kurtz discovered,
"is now disavowing those words as 'definitely out of bounds,'
says his spokeswoman Susan Irby...'He would not have approved this
letter,' Irby said. 'We have let them know we're unhappy....This went
out totally without our knowledge.'"
President Morton Blackwell, Kurtz reported, "says Lott
specifically approved the letter...'We had a meeting,' Blackwell said.
'We discussed the letter and he agreed to do it.'"
It used to be only liberals
were upset when you criticized the media's liberal bias.
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