Union-DNC Funnel Muzzled; Partisan Push; ABC's Liberal Priest
- All the
networks featured stories on IRS abuses, but only NBC Nightly News
included an update on Marv Albert.
- Three union
consultants plead guilty to funneling money to the DNC, but the
broadcast network evening shows have yet to mention it.
- Whether it's
the fundraising hearings or the look at the IRS, some reporters
put partisan portrayals ahead of discoveries.
- The star of
ABC's Thursday series on a liberal Catholic priest shows disdain
for conservative critics, insisting that a church should not tell
anyone what to think.
night all three broadcast networks featured full stories on the IRS
hearings before the Senate Finance Committee and both CBS and ABC
ended with stories on the 40th anniversary of Little Rock's Central
High School desegregation battle. For the second night in a row, of
the broadcast networks, only NBC Nightly News offered a bra and panty
update on Marv Albert. (CNN's prime time shows prominently featured
the trial.) Here are some notes about the September 24 shows:
ABC's World News Tonight led
with debate over whether a U.S. astronaut should go to the Mir space
station. Later, Peter Jennings offered this introduction to a story on
the IRS hearings:
"In Washington today
there were some stunning revelations at the second day of Senate
hearings on the Internal Revenue Service. An IRS employee testified
that agents would make up false accusations against taxpayers just
to raise extra money. And ABC's Barry Serafin reports there are
others who say the IRS goes out of its way to ruin people's
Maybe this wouldn't be so
"stunning" to Jennings if ABC spent more time digging into
current abuses by government regulatory agencies and a bit less on who
said what in some 30-year-old tobacco company memo. Nothing revealed
at the hearings so far couldn't have been discovered and highlighted
years ago by any good reporter.
The CBS Evening News also
began with "go or no go" on the "crippled Mir."
Bob Schieffer provided a full
report about the IRS and later Dan Rather showed a clip of President
Clinton at the AFL-CIO convention where he argued for fast track. But
Rather failed to use the union story as an opportunity to tell CBS
viewers about how three Teamsters officials pleaded guilty last week
to funneling money between the union and the DNC. See item #2 below
for more on the lack of coverage of this matter.
Two stories on the impact of
El Nino topped the September 24 NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw led into
NBC's IRS story by announcing:
"This was another
tough day in the spotlight for the IRS, the agency that collects
your taxes. Senate Republicans have put the IRS under hot lights for
its abuses, and not incidentally because it's also a very popular
target with voters. Today a view from inside the agency --
After recounting the
testimony of an IRS agent about how the agency abuses taxpayers and
some experiences of taxpayers who were mistreated, Lisa Myers
concluded her report:
"Tonight the IRS
Commissioner issued a statement apologizing to these taxpayers,
saying no one should have to endure what they did. He did not say
when they would get their money back."
On the Menage a Marv front,
only NBC offered an update. Tom Brokaw told viewers:
"There was also more
shocking testimony today at the sexual assault trial of Marv Albert,
the NBC sportscaster. The prosecution produced a surprise witness, a
middle-aged woman who worked for the Hyatt Hotels. She said three
years ago the NBC sportscaster asked her to come to his room to help
with a fax. When she arrived, she claimed, he was dressed in woman's
lingerie and tried to bite her. They struggled, she said, and she
pulled off his toupe."
You can't make this stuff up.
If only Cokie Roberts did that to Sam Donaldson on This Week on some
Sunday then Meet the Press wouldn't have a chance of beating them in
2) As noted
above, Wednesday's CBS Evening News failed to take an opportunity to
report how some Teamsters officials had admitted funneling money
between the union and the DNC. The New York Times, Washington Post and
Los Angeles Times all played the news on their front pages last
Friday, but the broadcast networks ignored the major development that
"U.S. Says Carey Aides
Used DNC, AFL-CIO: Consultants Plead Guilty to Funneling Money"
read the September 19 Washington Post headline. The September 24
Washington Times updated the story under this Wednesday headline:
"DNC, Teamsters Traded Funds: Clinton-Gore Campaign Implicated in
Scheme to Raise Illegal Donations." The Friday Post story began:
yesterday outlined a series of schemes in which three political
consultants allegedly used various groups, including the Democratic
national Committee and AFL-CIO, to illegally funnel money to help
finance Teamster President Ron Carey's reelection campaign."
The prosecutor, the Post relayed, "said an unnamed official of
both the DNC and Clinton-Gore reelection committee agreed to seek
contributors to the Carey campaign in exchange for Teamsters
donations to the DNC."
Zilch then or since on ABC's World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News
or NBC Nightly News, though the September 18 World Today on CNN
carried a full story on the guilty pleas. The next morning, not a
syllable on either This Morning on CBS or NBC's Today. ABC's Good
Morning America, however, did find it newsworthy. GMA ran brief items
from news reader Kevin Newman during the 7am and 8am news updates, MRC
news analyst Gene Eliasen observed.
Bernard Shaw may have revealed why the networks felt comfortable
skipping the Senate fundraising hearings on many days. After all, the
Thompson committee is not investigating wrongdoing, it's carrying on a
"partisan attack." The MRC's Tim Graham caught this from
CNN's Bernard Shaw on the September 24 Inside Politics:
Governmental Affairs Committee has turned its focus from partisan
attacks to ways to clean up the campaign finance quagmire. Today, it
was mostly academics giving their views to the committee. And when
the session started the witnesses outnumbered the Senators and the
press corps combined."
Speaking at emphasizing
partisanship over findings and results, that's what CBS did Tuesday
night in its story on the IRS hearings (see the September 24
CyberAlert). MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski noticed some more of this
theme on Wednesday's This Morning.
After airing a piece from Bob
Schieffer, co-host Jane Robelot asked him:
Robelot: "Bob, you
say that these hearings are real crowd pleasers. Are they
Schieffer agreed: "Republican
leaders in the Senate have sent out fundraising letters soliciting
donations by saying, 'Your support will help us to end the reign of
terror of the IRS.' So, while it's true there are certainly some
reforms needed in the IRS, I think because these fundraising letters
have been sent out, a lot of people think these hearings are
Following another Schieffer
story during he second hour of the September 24 show, Robelot returned
to the same theme, inquiring of Schieffer:
Robelot: "Bob, is
anybody kind of coming to the defense of the IRS? Are Democrats
standing up for them?"
Schieffer answered: "Well,
as we just said in the piece, some Democrats wonder if perhaps they
are being used as a whipping boy by the Republicans who are trying
to raise money. The IRS denies any wrongdoing. IRS agents will
testify, the officials of the IRS will testify, toward the end of
4) Tonight at
8pm ET ABC will air the second episode of a new weekly drama series
titled Nothing Sacred. The series, which focuses on a priest at an
urban parish, has come under fire from conservative Catholics
including the Catholic League. In the first episode, for instance, the
priest told a pregnant woman to follow her feelings not church
teaching on whether to have an abortion.
Well, in an interview on Good
Morning America the star of the show made clear that he doesn't think
much of the criticism or think that a church should have anything to
do with what a member believes.
First, some background lifted
from an item in the e-mail report distributed a few days ago by the
Parents Television Council. The PTC's Mark Honig put this together
with input from MRC entertainment analyst Melissa Caldwell:
Nothing Sacred, the new ABC
drama about an inner-city priest named Father Ray, made its debut at
8:00pm on Thursday. This show has been criticized by some Catholics
for its assault on the Church's teachings, and based on the first
episode's decidedly liberal slant, once can see why they are angry.
However, from the program's
opening scene -- a tight butt shot of Father Ray in his briefs
walking to the bathroom as he awoke in the morning -- and throughout
the entire episode, it is clear advocates of a return to the
"Family Hour" also have much to be weary of. After a
heated exchange with a man who believes the soup kitchen is bringing
down property values and making it difficult for him to rent
apartments, Father Ray storms out of the hearing room and shouts,
Father Ray also has a way
of putting himself in some very compromising situations. For
example, during the episode he runs into an old girlfriend -- now
married -- who happens to be the step-mother of a problem child whom
Father Ray is attempting to help. Well, it seems Father Ray still
has feelings for her. When you add to that her problem marriage --
she and her husband have not made love in years -- you end up with
Father Ray going to meet her at a motel where the following exchange
Ray: "You pick
quite a place to talk."
Jenna: "I'm a
wreck...afraid you wouldn't come. Afraid you would come. Afraid
you'd take one look at me and realize it's been years, two
children, and one caesarian later. Afraid I'm out of practice. If
I were a man, I would call it performance anxiety...what are you
Ray: "I'm afraid
that I might love you."
(To read the Parents
Television Council alerts, you can go to: http://archive.mrc.org/ptc/entalert/)
Asked about this criticism,
the star of the show, actor Kevin Anderson, told Good Morning America
co-host Lisa McRee:
Kevin Anderson: "I
think the church has got enough to worry about without worrying
about telling people what to watch and what to think."
Lisa McRee then asked in
the interview aired September 22: "Do you think it's fair,
Anderson: "Oh, I
think it's very fair."
McRee: "Then what's
the controversy about, I mean what's the beef?"
Anderson: "Well, I
think it depends on what people, what their perceptions of the
church are, what they feel the church brings to them. I think it
depends a lot on what kind of parish you go to as to how you think.
I mean I was raised in suburban Illinois which is completely
different than going to church like in South Central or in the
Village in New York. You're going to find different priests,
different ways of saying Mass."
Talk about situational
ethics. And a church telling or teaching its followers "what to
think." What a novel concept.
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