GOP Gaffe Before Democratic Swastika; Killer Lawnmowers
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contradictory and confusing headlines about the man who did or did
not threaten Chelsea Clinton.
documented how the media jumped on Sam Brownback's gaffe but
ignored the Nazi swastika displayed at a Democratic event. Trent
Lott blamed "biased reporting" but weeks earlier he had
denounced as "out of bounds" such criticism of the
Top Ten Ways to Make Presidential Press Conferences More
- USA Today
assured readers that tax cuts would not "hurt" the
economy. CNN asked "Could your lawnmower kill you?"
1) Try to follow this story
from the headlines about a man who did or did not improperly try to
contact Chelsea Clinton and was then arrested or cleared, take your
Tries to Contact Chelsea, Is Nabbed." -- Washington Times,
"Man Who Tried to Write Chelsea Clinton Is Freed." -- Washington
Post, same day over the same AP story.
to Chelsea Lead to Arrest." -- USA Today, August 11
"Secret Service Denies Chelsea Threatened." -- Washington
Times, same day and
"Secret Service Clears N.J. Man." -- Boston Globe,
2) Two updates on the story
of how the media ignored a man with a Nazi swastika tattoo who
Democrats showcased at a press conference. One update involves the
hypocrisy of the media, the other the hypocrisy of Trent Lott.
First, a reminder of
what was reported in the July 29 CyberAlert. In a July 28 Washington
Post story Howard Kurtz reported: "The West Virginia truck driver
was trotted out by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Minority Leader
Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as someone who would be helped by the Clinton tax
plan. Rockefeller, clearly unaware of the tattoo, introduced the man
as 'a very close and personal friend.'
Kurtz noted that the swastika
on the man's wrist "was reported as a brief item only by the
Hill, the Capitol Hill weekly, and by Associated Press Radio."
But everyone else skipped it. A CNN executive, Kurtz discovered,
conceded a different standard would have applied to Gingrich: "A
CNN producer phoned it in for Inside Politics, but on a busy day, said
Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno, 'like many other pieces of copy,
it didn't make it....I think it's a story. Clearly if Newt Gingrich
walked out with a guy with a swastika on his arm, people would have
jumped all over it.' Sesno said he would further examine the
-- Media Hypocrisy: An
August 1 editorial in the Investor's Business Daily contrasted lack of
media interest in the Nazi tattoo to media concern about a gaffe by a
"Compare that lack of
coverage to the attention a Republican Senator, Sam Brownback of
Kansas, got for a recent gaffe. During this month's Senate hearings on
campaign finance scandals, Brownback offended Asians by using pidgin
English to describe a pay policy for Democratic fundraiser John Huang
as 'no raise money, no get bonus.'
"Certainly, that was an
insensitive remark, and Brownback apologized for it. But isn't it
worth noting when a Senator's 'personal friend' sports a swastika
"Searching the Nexis
database of major daily newspapers, we found that 16 of them had news
stories or editorials on Brownback's remarks. There were just two
stories on the man with the swastika tattoo -- Kurtz's column in The
Washington Post and a San Francisco Chronicle summary of the column.
That's a telling gap."
I'd add that both CNN's
Inside Politics and ABC's World News Tonight ran stories on
Brownback's remark. Neither mentioned the Nazi-tattooed friend of the
Democratic West Virginia Senator.
-- Trent Lott's Hypocrisy:
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott asserted that the Democrats
"got a pass" from the media on the tattoo display, Greg
Pierce reported in his August 1 Washington Times "Inside
Politics" column. Pierce relayed remarks Lott made on NBC Radio
on July 30:
"If I had brought a
couple in here from my state and the guy had a swastika or something
like that on his arm or his hand, I would have been absolutely
crucified and very likely would have been run out of office."
Lott excused his colleagues
but blamed the press: "Now, in defense of Tom Daschle and Jay
Rockefeller, they didn't know this was on the guy's hand. The story is
the national press...quashed the story, and the American people need
to know the kind of biased reporting here that we are faced
I'm confused. What biased
reporting could Lott possibly be talking about? Just weeks earlier the
Senator denounced as "out of bounds" a letter that
criticized liberal media bias. Here's how Lott's attack was recounted
in the July 15 CyberAlert:
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.'"
One thing shared by
journalists and politicians: Lack of consistency.
3) From the August 6 Late
Show with David Letterman, "The Top Ten Ways to Make Presidential
Press Conferences More Interesting." Copyright 1997 by Worldwide
10. Lively game of
keep-away with Sam Donaldson's toupee
9. Replace presidential
seal with Hooters logo
8. Reporters must refer to
the President as "Puff Daddy"
7. Two words: vibrating
6. Clinton looks at Gore
and yells, "Would you blink already you spooky bastard!"
5. Every time President
dodges a question, he has to do a shot
4. The Washington Press
Corps + a swarm of angry wasps = 15 minutes of hilarious political
3. If the President doesn't
like a question, he bites off your ear
2. Get rid of Tubby and
bring in Harrison Ford
1. More guys named Wolf
4) Two wacky stories.
First, as Steve Moore
of the Cato Institute called to remind us, USA Today thinks tax cuts
are dangerous. The headline at the top of the July 30 Money section:
"Tax Cuts Not Expected to Hurt Economy." Who besides a
reporter would see a tax cut as harmful?
Second, MRC news
analyst Clay Waters has displayed signs of sod phobia, such as picking
shredded lettuce out of his sandwiches, since seeing this story on
CNN. On the August 3 World Today anchor Linden Soles warned:
"Could your lawnmower
kill you? Perhaps. In fact, a new study finds that you could be
risking your life every time you cut the grass. In our News from
Medicine report, CNN's Ed Garsten tells us that matching you with the
right mower may mean the difference between life and death."
All the more reason to stay
inside and read your always informative but never dangerous CyberAlert.
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