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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| October 22, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 169) |


Fundraising Bores Public; More Quotes of the Decade

1) CBS News discovered that when it comes to the fundraising scandal, Americans are "worried it's getting so much attention."

2) To the New York Times the number of people in prison has no impact on the crime rate.

1) Sunday's CBS Evening News featured a story on how people outside of Washington, DC don't care about the fundraising scandal. It's the third of this kind of story I've noticed over the past couple of weeks which fit into the "media circle." Ignore many scandal developments, slant the little coverage offered toward a "they all do it" theme while portraying the hearings as a political game, not a serious inquiry. Then report that the public doesn't care and when asked about the minimal level of coverage point to the lack of public interest.

      On the October 19 CBS Evening News reporter Sharyl Attkisson ventured all the way out to a DC suburb. As transcribed by MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski, she asked:
      "How is the whole issue of campaign finance reform playing outside of Washington, D.C.? Have politicians really been able to make the voters care? Families enjoying a pumpkin festival in Centreville, Virginia, 45 minutes from the Capital, seem far removed from the squabbles. Is there anyone in this group here that thinks campaign finance reform is being overplayed? Misunderstood?"
      Man: "I don't even think they should be focusing on it at all."
      Woman: "The politicians are saying so much and the media is listening to them where there's a lot more other issues they should be listening to."
       Attkisson: "Issues like health care and education for their children. Some are concerned about fundraising, but are also worried it's getting so much attention."
      Man: "Sometimes it's in excess, but I think that there's too much said about it."
      Attkisson: "But one view is clear, even people who want campaign abuses investigated would be happier if Congress spent more time on other things, things they see as more important to their families and their future."

      Let's hope these "average citizens" stick to pumpkin carving and leave politics to those who have a clue about what's going on.

      The other story stories with the public doesn't care theme appeared in newspapers. Here are the headlines: 

      From the October 10 New York Times: "The Buzz in the Capital Brings a Yawn in Peoria."   From the October 17 USA Today: "Where Fundraising Flap Falls Flat -- In Missouri, 1,000 miles from the nation's capital, the clamor over political fundraising generally is drawing little interest or concern."

      And at least one media star agrees with the public view, at least the assessment found by reporters that they all do it. On this past weekend's Tim Russert show on CNBC, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl suggested the scandals are not hurting Clinton's popularity rating because people see that "he's a great father and he's a compromiser. And the Republicans like to say he has no sense of direction. But we see it as kind of prudent. You know we like it. He's not taking us in any wild directions."
      Russert asked, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "And in terms of campaign fundraising is the view across the country, 'They all do it?'"
       Stahl agreed with the public assessment: "They all do it. Well in a sense it's true. In a sense it's true."  

2) A very telling New York Times headline from a few weeks ago that we overlooked, but it's too good to ignore any longer. Over a September 28 New York Times "Week in Review" story the headline read: "Crime Keeps on Falling, But Prisons Keep on Filling."  

      As if the two trends are unrelated.

-- Brent Baker




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