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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday November 9, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 182)

Gingrich "Hated" by Reporters & Public Won't Miss; "Hamas" Republicans

1) Good-riddance: "A new poll from ABC News shows Americans will not miss Newt Gingrich." Russert's advice to GOP: be "pragmatic."

2) If the GOP had adopted a conservative agenda they would have done worse, Al Hunt argued. Steve Roberts warned of the dangers posed by "the Hamas wing of the Republican Party."

3) Two weeks ago Nightline called the GOP ads "fairly timid." Friday night they were recast as "hard-hitting commercials."

4) CBS's Bob Schieffer dismissed Gingrich as a light-weight egomaniac and made up how Gingrich said the Air Force One incident "was one of the reasons he shut down the government."

5) The Washington Post disparaged Gingrich for "such race-tinged issues as crime and welfare to win control of the House in 1994."

6) Newsweek's Evan Thomas denounced Lauch Faircloth as a "hater," exulting, "so good riddance to him."

7) Brit Hume: "I know a lot of reporters in this town and their attitude about Newt Gingrich is poison. They hated the guy." Indeed, here are links to 18 MRC articles proving the disgust.

8) Sam Donaldson put his personal hopes ahead of solid analysis, foreseeing the "delight" of a Humphrey win in Minnesota.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Gingrich is going out the same way he came in: With the networks tearing him down. From London, where ABC News has moved much of its operation to get around the NABET strike/lockout, World News Tonight/Sunday anchor Carole Simpson opened the November 8 show:
     "Good evening. A new poll from ABC News shows Americans will not miss Newt Gingrich: 70 percent approve of his decision to step down as Speaker of the House. And 90 percent say his successor should try harder to work with the Democrats instead of against them."

     (For recollections of how the networks greeted and treated Gingrich, see item #7 below.)

     ABC's Karla Davis provided a report on the battle between Bob Livingston and Chris Cox to replace him and Sam Donaldson looked at how Clinton triumphed by acting presidential since the Starr report. NBC Nightly News led on Sunday with John Glenn's return. Joe Johns checked in on the scramble to succeed Gingrich and John Palmer narrated a story on how both sides want to speed up the impeachment process and get it behind them. (Football bumped the CBS Evening News in the ET and CT time zones.)

     Friday night, November 6, all the networks began with the just then breaking news of Gingrich's decision, first revealed by Tim Russert on MSNBC just past 6pm ET.

     On ABC's World News Tonight Peter Jennings told viewers: "It is, said one analyst, 'bizarre.'" Linda Douglass noted that "many blame him for Tuesday's election losses, charging that he failed to focus Republicans on winning issues and that he had given the party a snarling image."

     Dan Rather called the decision a "stunner" on the CBS Evening News while NBC's Tom Brokaw similarly referred to it as "stunning news from Washington." Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News:
     "When the congressional election results came in on Tuesday night, a huge disappointment for the Republicans, Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House, immediately blamed the news media. But since then many of his fellow Republicans have been saying openly Gingrich is the problem and he must go..."

     Brokaw asked Tim Russert: "Tim, the DNA of the Republican leadership will not really change in terms of the philosophy of fiscal conservatism and going hard for a tax cut in 1999, will it?"
     Russert replied that Republicans should be less ideological: "No, but it will have a smile on it. The one thing we learned from the election on Tuesday is that Republican Governors from Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, no not in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Texas and Florida are conservatives who are pragmatists, who govern with a smile, a compassionate conservatism as George Bush called it down in Texas. The Republicans in the House believe there is a valuable lesson there."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Russert reflected the new media mantra: Republicans must be nicer and less conservative.

     -- On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt disputed the conservative analysis that the Republicans would have done better if they ran on conservative issues:
     "One of the great myths today is that if it weren't for the Lewinsky scandal, the Republicans would have done better. If this campaign had been fought on the issues, the Democrats using the surplus for Social Security versus big tax cuts offered by the Republicans, the Democrats talking about more money for teachers and school construction versus private school vouchers, the Democrats talking about HMO reform versus less government regulation -- if that had been the issues this fall, I think the Democrats would have won the House and gained seats in the Senate. And they were denied that because of President Clinton's recklessness."

     -- The next day on CNN's Late Edition of November 8, Steve Roberts, formerly of the New York Times and U.S. News and now with the New York Daily News, warned Republican leaders against following the advice of conservatives:
     "I think the real danger for the Republicans is misreading the election. There are a lot of very conservative Republicans who say the reason why they lost seats was because the party wasn't pure enough, it wasn't right-wing enough. I think that's exactly the wrong message from the election. I think if you look at their Governors, successful Governors, they won because they moderated the conservatism with a certain pragmatism. And I think it's a real danger for the Republicans if they allow the strong, right-wing voices to dominate this party."

     A few minutes later Roberts used a terrorist faction's name to describe conservatives: "As Dick Gephardt has said on the show this morning, that part of the problem any Republican leader is going to have is that Hamas wing of the Republican Party who are not going to compromise."

     In contrast, after the Republicans won the House in 1994 the network analysts refused to credit conservatism. See the third article linked under item #7 below.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) From "fairly timid ads" to "hard-hitting commercials" in just nine days. Here's Ted Koppel the October 28 Nightline:
     "The Republican National Committee today unleashed three fairly timid ads in which the subject of President Clinton's indiscretions and evasions are ever so gently hinted at."

     Fast forward nine days to the Friday night, November 6 Nightline. Reporter Chris Bury cited the ads as evidence of how Gingrich violated his promise of decorum in "personally" approving the ads which Nightline suddenly decided were no longer "fairly timid." In the set-up piece just after Koppel's intro, Bury recalled a Gingrich speech on Clinton's lies:
     "At first he threatened to make it a mantra."
     Gingrich: "I will never again as long as I am Speaker make a speech without commenting on this topic."
     Bury: "Then Gingrich backed off, playing the part of statesman."
     Gingrich in House: "The chair will enforce this rule of decorum with respect to references to the President and asks and expects the cooperation of all members in maintaining a level of decorum that properly dignifies the proceedings of the House."
     Bury: "Only to orchestrate an open-ended congressional investigation and personally approve hard-hitting commercials just before the election."
     Ad: "This year the question is should we reward Bill Clinton."
     Bury: "And then blame the news media."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Instead of praising Newt Gingrich for putting his party, his beliefs and others ahead of himself, in stark contrast to how President Clinton sacrifices everyone to save himself, CBS's Bob Schieffer disparaged Gingrich as a light-weight egomaniac. In the midst of doing so Schieffer preposterously asserted that Gingrich "accused the President of slighting him because he once got a bad seat on Air Force One and said that was one of the reasons he shut down the government."

     Here is Schieffer's "Closing Thought" from the November 8 Face the Nation:
     "Great leaders see the larger picture and the greater possibilities of the offices they hold. Franklin Roosevelt saw the larger possibilities of the presidency and he used them to rescue a nation in economic depression. Ronald Reagan understood that being President was more than running the government and because he did he was able to put a smile on the face of a nation that had been down in the dumps too long. Lesser men do not always see the bigger picture but come to see themselves as larger than the offices they hold. Newt Gingrich made that mistake.
     "In the beginning he had big ideas and big plans for his party and they were not all bad. But vision gave way to self-importance. It was alright for him to take ethical shortcuts because he was the Speaker after all, not some no-name Congressman. He began to complain about respect, accused the President of slighting him because he once got a bad seat on Air Force One and said that was one of the reasons he shut down the government.
     "It all came crashing down on him last week when Republicans lost seats in Tuesday's elections and turned on him. They threatened to throw him over the side just as he had threatened to throw an earlier generation over the side if they didn't step aside when he wanted to become Speaker.
     "So he's out of there, the man who saw himself as a transformational figure in American politics may turn out to be no more than a figure in transit. So long Newt. We hardly knew you."

     How generous of Schieffer to concede Gingrich's ideas "were not all bad." Just like Schieffer's reporting "is not all bad." But in this analysis Schieffer took the liberal caricature of what happened on Air Force and then pinned the story on Gingrich. In the midst of being blamed for the government shutdown, all Gingrich said was that he and Clinton were on a plane together for 15-plus hours and Clinton never made an effort to talk. And Gingrich certainly never said he shut down the government because of whatever happened on the plane. Still blaming Gingrich at this late date shows Schieffer's bias as it took Clinton refusing to sign spending bills to cause the shutdown.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Gingrich the racist. Here's a paragraph from a sidebar story in Sunday's Washington Post by reporter Thomas Edsall.
     "[Lee] Atwater raised to a political art form the tactic of using wedge issues to win the presidency for Republicans in the 1980s. Gingrich followed that example but added new sophistication to the GOP's use of such race-tinged issues as crime and welfare to win control of the House in 1994."

     It's very convenient now to paint Gingrich as the race-baiter, but it ignores what he had to overcome to become a Congressman from Georgia: the entrenched racism and pro-segregation policies of the dominating Democratic Party. Before winning in 1978, Gingrich lost twice, barely, in 1974 and 1976 to Democratic incumbent Jack Flynt, "an old-school Southern segregationist," as Dick Williams put it in his 1995 book: Newt! Leader of the Second American Revolution.

     Williams explained that in contrast, "Newt never shared the age-old views of many Southerners on white supremacy and racial separation. He grew to understand minority status, first as one who shared his Army-post housing, school bus, and classrooms with African-Americans and then as a Republican in the heart of yellow-dog Democratic territory. But he never accepted it." In 1976, "he took pains to involve blacks in his campaign and he worked closely with black churches in his district."


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Meanwhile, another leading media figure praised a man who used government power to enforce racism, while labeling a Republican a "hater." As Governor of South Carolina Ernest Hollings blocked de-segregation of the University of South Carolina. On Inside Washington over the weekend Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas remarked about the Senate results in the Carolina's:
     "I'm happy about Fritz [Hollings]. He's a crusty old coot, the kind you don't really see in Congress any more. Faircloth is a sort of more recent edition. He's a member of the hater branch of the North Carolina Republican Party, so good riddance to him."


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) The media's crusade to destroy Gingrich and his policies. Tom Brokaw (in item #1) and Chris Bury (in item #3) were quick to dismiss Gingrich's blaming the media after this week's election. In a November 5 "Dan Rather's Notebook" item on the CBS News Web site (http://www.cbs.com/navbar/news.html) Dan Rather called it "just straight out bull feathers."

bhume119.jpg (15265 bytes)     While Gingrich's case may be weak in what specifically led to Tuesday's results, the media certainly laid the groundwork over the years for the public to believe the worst about GOP intentions. Gingrich and other Republicans were hurt by the tremendous media bias which turned the public against them by almost solely blaming them for the government shutdown, a level of bias which probably scared them from pushing anything they knew the media would denounce. As Brit Hume observed on the November 8 Fox News Sunday:
     "I think that Gingrich had a terrible press and animosity. I know a lot of reporters in this town and their attitude about Newt Gingrich is poison. They hated the guy, there's no doubt about it. They hated the guy. Thought he was a bad person. Thought he was evil. And he had a terrible press and now he, you'll notice he's getting good press these days, suddenly these reporters who have been writing this stuff about him have discovered all these achievements that he had."

     Indeed, the MRC has documented how that animosity was displayed in biased coverage. To remind everyone of the media hostility which greeted the Republican takeover of the House, here are some links to 1994-96 MRC articles. (**Please note that some of these URL's listed need to be adjusted before they will work properly. MRC Webmaster Sean Henry should be able to fix them all by 10:30am ET Monday. If you try to link to one earlier than then and it does not work, just drop the "l" off the end; ie: change the address so it ends in ".htm" instead of ".html" As always, you can substitute www.mrc.org for www.mediaresearch.org)

-- "Peter Jennings: You Voters Need A Diaper." In a post-election radio commentary Jennings spewed: "Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week....Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old."

     To read more of Jennings and more from other angry media figures, check out the special "Mid-Term Election Sore Losers Edition" of Notable Quotables: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1994-1993/nq19941121.html

-- "Reporters Club Contract with America with False History of the 1980s." Among this memories in this MediaWatch article, how Tom Brokaw introduced the Contract with America as "long on promises but short on sound premises." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1994/mw19941001p1.html

-- "Conservatism Gets Little Credit After Election-Night Tradition of Blaming It For Losses: The Non-Ideological GOP Landslide?" To read this study, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1994/mw19941101stud.html

-- "The New House Speaker's Journalistic Welcome Wagon: Newt Gingrich, 'Radical Geek.'" Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1994/mw19941101p1.html

-- "CBS Star Far Nicer to Bill Clinton's Mother in 1993 Interview: Connie Cons Newt's Mom." Remember this "just whisper to me" hit? Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19950101p1.html

-- "The Newt-Centric Media Universe: Networks Which Ignored Wright Now Barely Touch Tom Daschle and Ron Brown Scandals." A study on how "the perfectly legal Gingrich book deal generated 27 evening show stories" while Jim Wright's book deal got none. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19950201stud.html

-- "The Magazine That Cried Wolf: Time Decries 'Elimination' of Nutrition Programs as Actual Spending Continues to Soar." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19950301jca.html

-- "Use of 'Far Right' and 'Extreme' Labels Link Conservatives and Terrorists: McVeigh: Newt's Protegé?" Excerpt: "'Public antagonism toward government,' Boston Globe D.C. Bureau Chief David Shribman wrote on page one April 25, 'has been voiced and amplified by the new Republican House, which just this month completed its 100 days of action, much of it aimed at paring back the growth of the federal government. But now that an attack on a government building has left scores dead, including children, the allure is coming off the anti-government rhetoric.'" For more, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19950501p1.html (**This article is not currently on the MRC Web page. It will be posted Monday morning.**)

-- "Network News Dominated by Arguments and Soundbites Against the GOP Contract: Fighting the First One Hundred Days." The MRC's definitive study which discovered: "Stories opposed to the Contract with America outnumbered those in favor of its provisions by 127 to 21." To read the entire study, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19950501stud.html

-- "Environmental Assault: ABC Goes Goofy." This article began:
"World News Tonight's July 12-14 American Agenda series on the environment conjured up a dystopia of dirty air, bad water and poisoned meat, all a result of GOP reform plans. Peter Jennings foreshadowed the tone in a July 9 promo: 'Next week on ABC's World News Tonight, a series of reports about our environment which will tell you precisely what the new Congress has in mind: the most frontal assault on the environment in 25 years.'" Go to:  http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19950801p2.html

-- "NBC Attacks Seven Republican Environmental Provisions in Two Minutes Without Rebuttal: Hager's Early Campaign Commercial." To read this Janet Cooke Award, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19950901jca.html

-- "Reporters Unable to Master 2nd Grade Math, Call Spending Hikes 'Cuts': Media vs. a Balanced Budget." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19951101p1.html

-- "Networks Present One-Sided View of Public and Bureaucrats as Victims of Shutdown: Budget News Without Basic Numbers." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1995/mw19951201stud.html

-- "Networks Mourn Victims of Second Shutdown, Single Out Republicans for Blame: Same Liberal Song, Second Verse." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1996/mw19960101stud.html

-- "Networks Search for Victims in the Wake of Second Budget Stalemate: The Shutdown Soap Opera." This article features this classic sophistry: "On December 22, a week into the shutdown and before paychecks were delayed, Jack Smith mourned on World News Tonight: 'The shutdown now has a human face. Joe Skattleberry and his wife Lisa both work for the government. Both have been furloughed. They can't afford a Christmas tree.'" Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1996/mw19960101p1.html

-- "CNN Describes Speaker as 'Too Extreme' and 'Scary,' a 'Clown Prince' with 'Fits of Pique.'" But as the MRC's Tim Graham noted at the time, that contrasted with how they treated Clinton a year before: "The narration by CNN's Lou Waters and Natalie Allen said nothing about Clinton's troubled private life, nothing about ethics, nothing about overweening ambition. Allen began the show with a quotation: 'He was not born a king, but a child of the common people who made himself a great persuader, therefore, a leader by dint of firm resolve, patient effort, and dogged perseverance.' Chimed in Waters: 'The words were written by Horace Greeley a century ago to describe Abraham Lincoln. They apply as well to this persevering young man from Arkansas, now leader of the Free World.'" Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1996/mw19960101ca.html

-- "Medicare: The Story with 1,060 Errors: The Health Program That Grows by Leaps and Bounds Mysteriously Described as 'Cut.'" Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1996/mw19960701stud.html

-- "While Newspapers Offer Clinton Information, Networks Thrive on Gingrich Speculation: Newt News Coverage Triples Clinton's." This study documents how much more interested in Gingrich ethics than Clinton scandal were the networks over six weeks. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1997/mw19970201stud.html

Just a sampling of the MRC research and documentation, but it should keep you busy for now. (To check out the archives of MediaWatch, Notable Quotables and CyberAlerts, go to mrc.org, click on the "News Division" icon and then choose "archive" from under any of the publications listed.)


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) Finally, there's wrong and there's really wrong. While no prognosticator picked Jesse Ventura to win the Governorship in Minnesota, most picked the Republican, Norm Coleman, who finished second. But, as MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, ABC's Sam Donaldson put his heart first and picked the Democrat who came in third. On the November 1 This Week he asserted:
     "I think Humphrey wins. I mean, the delight, nationally at least, to have another Humphrey in the arena."

     Do you think Donaldson would be so delighted in a few years if a son or grandson of Gingrich ran for office?  -- Brent Baker

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