Clinton's Celebrity Vacation; CBS Salutes the NEA
- Two Hollywood
stars met Clinton's plane in Martha's Vineyard, and he'll spend
his vacation palling around with celebrities.
- CBS's Sunday
Morning broadcast a tribute to the NEA which disparaged
conservative arguments against the arts agency.
1) With his last election
behind him, President Clinton can put his annual "average
guy" vacation charade aside and vacation with Hollywood and other
celebrities. When he arrived on Martha's Vineyard Sunday night, in
fact, two Hollywood stars were there to meet the plane designated Air
Force One. As The Washington Post's Peter Baker reported in an August
17 dispatch for the August 18 edition:
"Just a year ago, the
image would have been the stuff of nightmares for his political
consultants. As President Clinton and his family disembarked from Air
Force One tonight for the start of their summer vacation, there to
welcome them were television stars Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson.
"The Clintons greeted
them like the old friends they are. But the picture of the First
Family hobnobbing with celebrities in this sanctuary for the rich and
famous was precisely the vision that led his advisers to keep him away
from here for the last two years.
"After two poll-approved
August outings in the mountains of Wyoming, the election is history,
and the President and Hillary Rodham Clinton are again summering on
this Massachusetts island with friends from Harvard and
Steenburgen and Danson will
host a 51st birthday party for the President this week, Washington
Times reporter Paul Bedard noted in an August 18 story. Other
celebrities the President is expected to visit during his three weeks
on the island, Bedard listed: "The homes of retired Washington
Post Publisher Katherine Graham, singer James Taylor, Mr. Taylor's
former wife and singer Carly Simon, author and arts champion Sheldon
Hackney, TV lawyer Alan Dershowitz, author William Styron and Vineyard
tour guide and Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan."
2) Even during slow summer
days with no political events to drive news reports there's always one
show you can count on to deliver liberal bias: CBS's Sunday Morning.
This past Sunday, August 17, the cover story explored the National
Endowment for the Arts. But instead of an even-handed look at
arguments for and against the agency, CBS provided an eleven minute
tribute to the wonders of the NEA which shot down every conservative
contention. CBS suggested the NEA is the only thing preventing the
"dumbing down" of America and warned that eliminating the
agency would lead to "casualties."
Charles Osgood introduced the
"The state of the arts will be on the line very soon in the
United States Senate, perhaps as early as the second week of
September. That is when Senators will have to decide whether to follow
the lead of their colleagues in the House and cut off the flow of
federal money to the arts. Whether or not you think the arts are
important enough to warrant official support, the issue is important
because in an era of so-called 'dumbing down,' it says so much about
what sort of society we want America to become. Our cover story is
reported by Martha Teichner."
As transcribed by just hired
MRC news analyst Eric Darby on his first day on the job, Martha
Teichner began by emphasizing how little the NEA costs as she showed
the budget signing ceremony:
"It was a regular orgy
of self-congratulation. Democrats and Republicans celebrating their
balanced budget deal. A package that amounts to $1.7 trillion dollars
a year, tied up as neatly as a Christmas present. Not nearly so neat
and pretty, the fight over less than one one-hundredth of one percent
of that budget."
After airing soundbites from
Republican leaders and then allowing NEA Chairman Jane Alexander shoot
them down, Teichner revealed that one conservative argument really
annoyed her: "But the all-time favorite, the one that won't go
away, is that the NEA funds obscenity."
Teichner proceeded to talk
with the Christian Action Network's Martin Moyer about his display of
obscene art funded by the NEA. Moyer asserted that the public is
"shocked that the endowment has funded this." Teichner
countered: "Except that in many cases the NEA didn't, it gave
money to museums that 'happened' to of exhibited the works."
CBS spent the last few
minutes looking at the wonders of the NEA in Washington State, home of
the Senator who chairs the subcommittee which oversees the NEA and
could save it from the irresponsible House Republicans. Teichner
"From Washington State,
Slade Gorton, Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee
is a key player in what happens to the NEA. Senator Gorton was not
always the enthusiastic supporter he is now."
Senator Slade Gorton:
"It's always been my view that the NEA required delicate surgery,
but not death. And so two or three years ago when it was engaged in
some activities that I found offensive myself, and know my
constituents found to be offensive. I worked very hard to see to it
that that didn't happen in the future, and helped set up some of the
conditions under which it operates today."
Teichner lectured about the
"The NEA couldn't find a better place to argue its cause than
Senator Gorton's home state. The Seattle Opera got $100,000 this year,
sounds like a lot, but that's $60,000 dollars less than it got before
the NEA budget was cut. Because arts groups use NEA grants to solicit
matching funds the Opera estimates that its real loss was $300,000
dollars. Opera director Spate Jenkins is on the National Council for
the Arts, which reviews NEA grant applications."
Spate Jenkins: "I can
promise you, last year I read every single grant that the NEA gave and
I'm just one of many, many, many people who check this out, so we are
very careful and that's what they asked us to be. And I think this
money is extremely well spent."
thousand dollars from the NEA helped to bring performers to a
children's theater festival in Seattle. Attended by 42,000 kids from
all over Washington State, many who'd never see a live performance
anywhere else. It's an example of how the NEA justifies big grants in
major cities. Their seismic ripple effect is felt far from the source.
About as far from a big city as you can get, at the Spitcomish Indian
reservation, traditional twana basket weavers are working to prepare
for the annual Washington State basket makers gathering in October. A
$22,000 dollar NEA grant will help pay fees and travel expenses for
Now cue up the violin music
as you read Teichner's concluding words:
"It is a popular
argument that without the NEA the arts would do just fine. It's an
argument they don't buy at the Centrum Arts Education and Performance
Center located at an old Army base in Port Townsend, a remote coastal
town of 8,000. On the centrum campus, in an old balloon hanger, the
Seattle Youth Symphony practices and performs. It too gets NEA money
for scholarships. Some of these young musicians wouldn't be here
without the NEA's help. Would the youth symphony survive if the
National Endowment for the Arts were abolished? Would other arts
organizations? We asked. The answer invariably was yes, but, there
would be casualties."
In this case professional
reporting standards were a casualty. Three times this year Martha
Teichner has earned the monthly Janet Cooke Award from MediaWatch. (To
see these examples of her biased work, check the January, February and
June Cooke Awards at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/archive/mediawatch/archive1997.asp)
Maybe we should re-name it the Martha Teichner Award.
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