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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday June 1, 1998 (Vol. Three; No.86 )

Goldwater: Better With Age; Murphy Brown Says Quayle Was Right

1) Dan Rather insisted that Barry Goldwater swung the GOP "hard to the right;" CBS contended his "extremism" line "haunted him;" no network condemned the "daisy" ad and only CNN noted Reagan's Goldwater speech.

2) Reporters liked how Goldwater grew "a lot less unreasonable" in his later years; ABC and A&E hinted at media bias against Goldwater; Time blasted social conservatives for having "buried Goldwater years ago."

3) Dan Quayle was right, concedes Murphy Brown. Actress Candice Bergen now describes his 1992 speech as "completely sound."

>>> "Reporters Cite Flawed Campaign Numbers from Supposedly Nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics: Responsive to Questionable Data," the MRC's latest Media Reality Check is now up at the top of the MRC home page thanks to Web manager Sean Henry. Free Market Project Director Tim Lamer began the fax report: "How much does corporate America compared to labor unions spend on political campaigns? This question has become central to the debate over California's Proposition 226, which would require labor unions in the Golden State to receive written permission from members before using their dues for political purposes. Many reporters have repeated the claims of one study in particular, from the liberal Center for Responsive Politics (which is regularly labeled 'nonpartisan'), purporting to show that there is much more corporate money than labor money in politics. But these reporters haven't mentioned the study's serious flaws, which overstate corporate political contributions...." To read the rest, go directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1998/fax0529.htm <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Friday night network correspondents managed to condemn Barry Goldwater's "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" line, but not the infamous "daisy" commercial that suggested he'd start a nuclear war. The three broadcast networks and CNN all ran pieces reviewing Goldwater's life and impact. Some observations:
     -- Though ABC, CBS and CNN showed the "daisy" ad, none denounced the sleazy Johnson ad created by Bill Moyers.
     -- Only CNN noted how Reagan's election eve speech in support of Goldwater launched his political career.
     -- ABC and CBS let viewers hear the first half of Goldwater's convention line about extremism, which CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger insisted "haunted him," but not the second half about how "moderation in the defense of justice is no virtue."
     -- 34 plus years after the 1964 election, but Dan Rather couldn't resist applying a little extremist labeling, asserting that Goldwater pulled the GOP "hard to the right."

     (The daisy ad featured a little girl plucking pedal from a daisy as an announcer counted down to zero, followed by an atomic bomb explosion and Lyndon Johnson announcing something like "we will learn to live together or we shall all die.")

     -- From the May 29 World News Tonight piece narrated by Peter Jennings: "Goldwater won the Republican nomination for President in 1964. To his conservative political supporters he was a savior. In your heart, they said, you know he's right."
     Goldwater, at 1964 convention: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
     Jennings: "To his opponents, including President Johnson who he ran against, he was a dangerous extremist. In your heart, they said, you know he's nuts."
     Jennings, over video of the "daisy" ad: "With political ads like this one, that suggested Goldwater would get the nation into war with the Soviets, President Johnson buried him...."

     -- On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather declared: "Goldwater was born 89 years ago in Arizona, before it was a state. CBS's Richard Schlesinger remembers the man who turned the GOP hard to the right."

     Schlesinger: "....When Goldwater was nominated for President in 1964 his speech defined him and haunted him for the rest of his career."
     Goldwater: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
     Schlesinger: "Lyndon Johnson jumped at the chance to portray Goldwater as a loose cannon in the nuclear age. What might have been the first negative TV ad in history hammered home the point."
     Daisy ad: "Three, two, one, zero." (Then atomic bomb exploding)

     -- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET led with Bernard Shaw's look at Goldwater. Shaw, as did NBC's Bob Faw, let viewers hear both halves of his extremism/moderation quote. Leading into a clip of the "daisy" ad Shaw stated: "...Vietnam became a campaign issue, but President Johnson defended himself by successfully painting Goldwater as a right-wing kook who couldn't be trusted to have his finger on the nuclear button. This commercial ran once and voters got the message."
     Next, CNN's John King examined the relationship between Clinton and Goldwater. Almost an hour later, as the next to last story, Charles Bierbauer collected recollections from conservatives, such asVic Gold, Pat Buchanan and Paul Laxalt. Unlike ABC, CBS and NBC Bierbauer noted that the 1964 campaign "introduced his eventual inheritor, Ronald Reagan."

     (The 10pm ET The World Today opened with a story about how the Supreme Court had given the White House until Monday afternoon to respond to Starr's request for an expedited hearing on executive privilege and held Goldwater to one piece by Bruce Morton about his liberal views on gays, abortion and school prayer.)


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Weekend media looks at Goldwater's career included Time and Wall Street Journal reporters pleased by Goldwater's advocacy of liberal views in later life as he grew "a lot less unreasonable;" a couple of admissions that liberal bias generated unfair coverage of the 1964 campaign; and a reminder that the bias is still against conservatives as Time magazine issued an angry diatribe from the left about how social conservatives, "a radical faction," had hijacked the party and thus "buried Barry Goldwater years ago."

     -- Goldwater grew more liberal, I mean less unreasonable, over time.

     From Friday's Washington Week in Review on PBS, this telling exchange:
     Los Angeles Times reporter Robin Wright recalled that Goldwater advocated using low yield nuclear weapons in Vietnam, earning himself a "reputation as someone who operated on the edge."
     Moderator/CNN reporter Ken Bode: "Fast, quick trigger-finger, yes, quick to shoot."
     Robert Greenberger of the Wall Street Journal: "But don't you think as Barry Goldwater aged, now maybe this is a reflection on the country, maybe the country moved center or Barry Goldwater moved left, but he seems, in his later years he seemed a lot less unreasonable than some of the rhetoric you hear coming out of contemporaries on Capitol Hill."

     All agreed.

     From Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN. Bob Novak asserted: "I covered Barry Goldwater closely 40 years ago and he was a terrific guy. He became a hero for conservatives, but in fact was a disorganized, ineffective politician who set back the conservative movement by 16 years. He did not relate to blue collar Americans or religious Americans and belonged to the establishment secular society. Ironically, his pro-choice, pro-gay views of later years, endeared him to the kind of people who vilified him in his prime."

     Time's Margaret Carlson fulfilled Novak's analysis: "That's me. Goldwater was always honest, even when honesty didn't pay. My appreciation of Goldwater came in his and my later years when he called on Nixon to resign and when he said that Reagan was either a liar or incompetent for not knowing about Iran-Contra. He told the party to let abortion alone and to quote 'boot Jerry Falwell in the ass,' closed quote. He summed up gays in the military brilliantly. 'You don't have to be straight to shoot straight.' You don't get more honest than that."

     -- Hints that journalists now realize they were biased against Goldwater back then:

     Peter Jennings reminisced on Friday's World News Tonight: "Ted Koppel and I were two of the young correspondents who covered his presidential campaign 35 years ago. It wasn't always easy for us to see the man through the incendiary campaign rhetoric of the day. One of the old timers who had covered the White House since Franklin Roosevelt's first term surprised us one day when he said that if he was ever marooned on a desert island he would like Goldwater as a companion. Goldwater, he said, would know how to get us out of trouble and he would always make interesting conversation. After seeing the Senator off and on through the intervening years Ted and I agreed today if we were ever marooned on a desert island Barry Goldwater would have been a perfect choice."

     During A&E's "Biography This Week" on Goldwater narrator Richard Schlesinger of CBS News noted how liberal Republicans attacked Goldwater in '64, adding: "The press joined the charge. There were insinuations that he was a Nazi."
     A&E showed an old CBS News clip of Daniel Schorr, who is still with NPR: "Senator Goldwater has an invitation from Lieutenant General William Quinn, the commander of the 7th Army, to visit him for a vacation next weekend at Berchtesgaden, once Hitler's stamping ground, but now an American army recreational center."

     -- By taking the liberal position on abortion and the religious right Goldwater may have gained media admiration but those who still don't conform to the media's perspective still come under media fire. MRC media analyst Clay Waters caught an example on the time.com/pathfinder.com Web site. In a May 29 piece titled "The man that Republicans forgot dies in Arizona at 89," Time online writer Frank Pellegrini delivered this diatribe:

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," he shot back at New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and the establishment Republicans during the bruising 1964 Republican National Convention. "Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Democrats coupled that comment with Goldwater's hawkishness on Vietnam and used it to bury him in the ensuing campaign (remember the campaign commercial with the daisy girl and the mushroom cloud?), but it was the soul of the Goldwater psyche: know your philosophy, stick to it, and never hesitate to speak your mind.

By 1980, however, Republicanism was taking on a new face. The visage of Ronald Reagan was softer, gentler, and his ideology more inclusive. Led by Reagan, the GOP began to welcome -- and promote -- the the religious right. Reagan welcomed the anti-abortionists, the prayer-in-public-school types, the virulent opponents of homosexuality. Morality became acceptable ground for government policy, and that was something that Goldwater despised. In 1992, Barry Goldwater came out in favor of lifting the ban on gays in the military -- on the exquisitely conservative grounds that sexuality was none of the government's business. The tongue-clucking from the right was deafening. Gary Bauer, the president of the Family Research Council and now a kingmaker of the GOP's religious right, lamented publicly that "it's sad...Sen. Goldwater was once the authentic voice of American conservatism." Ah, but Goldwater didn't change his stripes, the GOP did. Bauer is the "authentic voice" of something else entirely: a radical faction that is fast taking over the party -- and trampling the philosophy -- to which Goldwater dedicated his political life.

No doubt the Republican party will be well represented at Barry Goldwater's funeral. No doubt there will be speeches from the Senate floor, tributes, words of thanks. But if there is any truth left in politics, there will be a lot of red faces. Because the party that this week comes to praise the father of modern conservatism --the Grand Old Party that owes him so much of the political power it enjoys today -- buried Barry Goldwater years ago.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown. Says who? Murphy Brown. Steve Allen, Washington correspondent for WorldNetDaily (http://www.worldnetdaily.com) alerted me to a surprising admission by Candice Bergen, star of the long-running CBS sit-com which ended this season, "Murphy Brown." Marking the final episode of the series, the May 17-23 Washington Post "TV Week" picked up a Los Angeles Times profile of Bergen by Judith Michaelson. Here's an excerpt of the illuminating part of her story:

Asked about that flash point in May 1992, when then-Vice President Dan Quayle attacked her TV character for having a baby out of wedlock, Bergen said: "We were all kind of bushwhacked by it." Yet she said it was "the right theme to hammer home...family values...and I agreed with all of it except his reference to the show, which he had not seen....It was an arrogant, uninformed posture, but the body of the speech was completely sound."

Indeed for Bergen, family is key, and she says she's "very different" from Murphy in that regard. "My family has always come first -- by a mile," she insists, debunking the notion of "quality time" as substitute for quantity.

"I had a very difficult time playing Murphy the first year after the baby, as a distant second priority. It was very distressing to me, and I couldn't get them to change it. Just hated it, and even [daughter] Chloe hated it when she would watch certain episodes. I didn't think it was a good message to be sending out. Everybody saw the charming and likable side of Murphy, but I always try to remind people that she paid a very high price."

Dan Quayle paid a high price in media ridicule and attacks. Two examples pulled from the June 8, 1992 edition of Notable Quotables:
     -- "The racial dimension flows naturally into the political, where the uglier side of Quayle's mission begins to become apparent. One of Quayle's amazing but unlikable feats last week was metaphorically to transform old Willie Horton into a beautiful blond fortyish WASP has-it-all knockout." -- Time Senior Writer Lance Morrow, June 1.

     -- "This was not an accident. This was not a casual speech. This was a speech very much a part of the White House game plan, a very deliberate attempt to use these family values, which are an amorphous collection of ideas, but to use them as a wedge issue to drive divisions in this country along cultural lines, along social lines, and to some extent along racial lines." -- U.S. News & World Report Senior Writer Steven Roberts on Washington Week in Review, May 22.

Where was Bergen back then?  -- Brent Baker

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