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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday December 29, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 192)

Time Praised FDR & Dissed Churchill; First Runners-Up in the Best NQs of '99

1) Time picked Albert Einstein as "Person of the Century," but managed plenty of room for admiration of FDR. Walter Isaacson dismissed Churchill because he opposed women's rights and praised Bill Clinton for restoring "the strength of Franklin Roosevelt's legacy by reforming welfare and conquering runaway deficits while still showing how government could help average citizens."

2) The first runners-up quotes in 14 categories in the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 1999: The Twelfth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Time magazine may have made Albert Einstein its Person of the Century, but Managing Editor Walter Isaacson made sure Franklin Roosevelt got plenty of admiration in the magazine's oddly Friday-dated December 31 issue. Roosevelt and Mohandas Gandhi shared "runner-up" status in the issue, with articles about the attributes of each. Isaacson explained that Time passed over Winston Churchill, in part, because "He bulldoggedly opposed the women's-rights movement." But I didn't notice any consideration of whether fifty years ago Einstein held proper 1999 views of the role of women.

    CNN's Wolf Blitzer may have revealed a widespread media disappointment with the passing over of Franklin Roosevelt, as he asked Isaacson on Sunday's Late Edition: "You know, a lot of people are going to be mighty disappointed that you didn't pick FDR, given that probably the greatest threat during this century was Hitler, perhaps the most evil man in history. FDR led the world, the free world, in the coalition to defeat him and they won."

    Isaacson replied by asserting Roosevelt was a champion of "unfettered free market capitalism," a theme he also promoted in the pages of the magazine. He told Blitzer: "Absolutely. And Franklin Roosevelt also took on capitalism and democracy's other great challenge, which was the Great Depression, and created a system in which the government helps provide a social safety net but still allows unfettered free market capitalism to work. So Roosevelt is a paramount person in this century, and there's long pieces on him, as I say, by President Clinton and Doris Kearns Goodwin."

    Indeed, Time featured a piece by Bill Clinton titled "Captain Courageous." In his up-front "To Our Readers" piece, Isaacson praised Clinton for restoring FDR's legacy by reforming welfare and "conquering runaway deficits." Isaacson insisted:
    "One of President Clinton's accomplishments has been to restore the strength of Franklin Roosevelt's legacy by reforming welfare and conquering runaway deficits while still showing how government could help average citizens. He's written a fascinating piece about what Roosevelt means today."

    If Roosevelt's legacy was so worthwhile why would it need restoring? And how is that accomplished by doing anything other than continuing its record of more government spending programs?

    In an overview piece about the century, "Who Mattered and Why," Isaacson made clear that Time put modern liberal sensibilities above everything else. While he applauded Churchill's vigorous resistance of Hitler, Isaacson found Churchill lacking in the "civil rights" department:
    "In his approach to domestic issues, individual rights and the liberties of colonial subjects, Churchill turned out to be a romantic refugee from a previous era who ended up on the wrong side of history. He did not become Prime Minister, he incorrectly proclaimed in 1942, 'to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire,' which then controlled a quarter of the globe's land. He bulldoggedly opposed the women's-rights movement, other civil-rights crusades and decolonization, and he called Mohandas Gandhi 'nauseating' and a 'half- naked fakir.'
    "As it turned out, Churchill's tenacity was powerful enough to defy Hitler, but not as powerful as the resistance techniques of the half-naked fakir. Gandhi and others who fought for civil rights turned out to be part of a historic tide, one that Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor appreciated better than Churchill did."

    Indeed, earlier in the story, Isaacson gushed over Eleanor Roosevelt:
    "Roosevelt made another great contribution: he escorted onto the century's stage a remarkable woman, his wife Eleanor. She served as his counterpoint: uncompromisingly moral, earnest rather than devious, she became an icon of feminism and social justice in a nation just discovering the need to grant rights to women, blacks, ordinary workers and the poor. She discovered the depth of racial discrimination while touring New Deal programs (on a visit to Birmingham in 1938, she refused to sit in the white section of the auditorium), and subsequently peppered her husband with questions over dinner and memos at bedtime. Even after her husband's death, she remained one of the century's most powerful advocates for social fairness."

    The latest edition of the MRC's MagazineWatch, put together this week by one of the few MRC staffers working this week, Tim Graham, offers more on Time's look at FDR and Gandhi as well as a U.S. News piece about a subject ignored by much of the media. The contents list for MagazineWatch, now up on the MRC home page:
    -- Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson explained Franklin D. Roosevelt was a finalist for "Person of the Century" honors because he championed "free minds and free markets." Huh?
    -- Isaacson added a syrupy tribute for Eleanor Roosevelt, and noted when it came to human rights, "Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor appreciated better than Churchill did."
    -- Time Chief Foreign Correspondent Johanna McGeary lauded Gandhi: "Sixties kids like me were his disciples when we went South in the Freedom Summer to sit in for civil rights and when we paraded through the streets of America to stop the war in Vietnam."
    -- Mining a surprisingly untapped vein for the supposed free speech-lovers in the national press corps, U.S. News columnist John Leo reported on the cowardly college presidents who allow politically incorrect student newspapers to be stolen or destroyed.

    To read these items, go to:


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Tuesday's CyberAlert relayed the winning quotes. Today, all 14 of the first runners-up in the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 1999: The Twelfth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."

    A panel of 44 talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers and media observers generously gave of their time to select their choices for the first, second and third best quote from six to eight quotes in each category. First place selections were awarded three points, second place choices two points, with one point for the third place selections. (See item #2 in the December 28 CyberAlert for the list of judges.)

    You can read all the quotes published in the print edition of this special year-end issue, plus view video clips, in RealPlayer format, of many of the television quotes, by going to the MRC's home page: http://archive.mrc.org and then click on the blue box just to the left of the picture.

    Or, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/bestofnq1999.html and click on: "1999 Winners -- Official Version Enhanced for the Web with Video Clips."

    Now, the top runners-up with the points each earned, in the formula described above, listed in brackets at the end of the attribution for each quote:

Quote of the Year, first runner-up:

"[W]e are in the middle of a primal American saga and the important part is yet to come. Bill Clinton may be merely the prequel, the President of lesser moment -- except, so to speak, as the horse she rode in on....I think I see a sort of Celtic mist forming around Hillary as a new archetype (somewhere between Eleanor and Evita, transcending both) at a moment when the civilization pivots, at last, decisively -- perhaps for the first time since the advent of Christian patriarchy two millenniums ago -- toward Woman."
-- Time's Lance Morrow in a July 12 "Viewpoint" piece. [77 points]

The Alec Baldwin Award (for Hate Speech Against the Presidential Impeachers), first runner-up:

"As she watches Republicans in Congress push ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, Ellen Mendel of Manhattan says she feels the same despair that she did as a girl in Nazi Germany when the efforts of a stubborn group of leaders snowballed, crushing the will of the people. 'It is apparent that the bulldozing campaign by the Republicans will not end,' said Ms. Mendel, a psychotherapist. And in a moment of self-analysis, she added: 'Their efforts are so abusive that I was beginning to feel a sense of discouragement. I have been feeling very isolated.'"
-- Opening to a January 25 New York Times story by Ginger Thompson on liberal Manhattanites enraged by the Republican push for removal. [57 points]

Soft on Crime Award (for Promoting Those Opposed to Holding Clinton Accountable), first runner-up:

"The Republican managers pushed a case that was bogus from the beginning. It should have been a vote of censure in the House and be done with it. And look at the defectors, the Republican defectors in the Senate: Northeastern Republicans. That's the aspect of the party that's still in touch with the people."
-- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, February 13 McLaughlin Group. [57 points]

China Syndrome Award (for Dismissing Nuclear Espionage), first runner-up:

"I heard someone ask rhetorically today that, 'Look, this is only gonna matter if, God forbid, there is one dark day that sees the use, the all-out use of thermonuclear weapons on this planet, and so why worry?'"
-- MSNBC host Brian Williams to House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss (R.-Fla.) on The News with Brian Williams, May 25. [45 points]

I Am Woman Award (for Hillary Rodham Worshipping), first runner-up:

"Forget the Senate. Over the last 12 days, Hillary Rodham Clinton has looked and sounded more like a candidate for Secretary of State. There she was in Egypt, gently urging tolerance for the minority Coptic Christians. There she was in Tunisia, lashing out at Islamic radicals in other countries who oppress women. And here she was in Morocco, speaking out on everything from the Middle East peace process to the NATO airstrikes in Yugoslavia.... "But the sight of the First Lady back on the world stage where she feels so sure-footed brought into sharp focus the peculiar trade-offs facing her as she decides whether to run next year....How does a woman who eagerly told an audience this morning about education and economics in Guatemala and Uganda turn her attention to the pork-and-potholes issues that arise in places like Utica and Ithaca? How does a woman whose international profile is so high that bystanders in Africa two years ago referred to her as 'the queen of the world' adjust to becoming a low-ranking member of the seniority-conscious Senate?"
-- Washington Post reporter Peter Baker in an April 1 news story about Hillary Clinton's trip to Africa. [50 points]

Media Hero Award, first runner-up:

"If his private life is shaped by his love for children and stepchildren, his public one is still shaped by his concern for the little guy, the one who parks your car, rings the cash register at the convenience store, catches the early bus. As he left town he was trying to expand health care, and when he comes back from burying his nephew, he will be fighting to raise the minimum wage."
-- Time columnist Margaret Carlson on Ted Kennedy, August 2. [51 points]

Damn Those Conservatives Award, first runner-up:
"Let's talk a little bit more about the right wing because I know that's something you feel very strongly about. But this is actually not necessarily about the right wing, but perhaps a climate that some say has been established by religious zealots or Christian conservatives. There have been two recent incidents in the news I think that upset most people in this country, that is the dragging death of James Byrd Junior and the beating death of Matthew Shepard. I just would like you to reflect on whether you feel people in this country are increasingly intolerant, mean-spirited, etcetera, and what, if anything, can be done about that because a lot of people get very discouraged when they hear and see this kind of brutality taking place."
-- Today's Katie Couric to former Texas Governor Ann Richards as she hosted a 92nd Street Y appearance in New York City on March 3 shown by C-SPAN April 3. [56 points]

Good Morning Morons Award, first runner-up:

"Bush is using this term 'compassionate conservative' as he campaigns, which is an interesting juxtaposition of two seemingly contradictory terms."
-- Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson to William Safire in discussing phrases used by presidential candidates in the campaign, November 18. [49 points]

Littleton Shop of Horrors Award (for Exploiting a Tragedy to Push Gun Control), first runner-up:

"Perhaps it will take one more school shooting to move the majority of Americans into a position more powerful than that of the NRA. Perhaps it will take one more school shooting to move us from people who support gun control to people who vote it. But as we continue to let the widows and the wounded do the work, be warned. That next school may be the one your children attend; the next accident could be close to home."
-- Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen, Nov. 1. [39 points]

Shooting the Constitution Award (for Advocating the Banning of Guns), first runner-up:

"Get rid of the guns. We had the Second Amendment that said you have the right to bear arms. I haven't seen the British really coming by my house looking for it. And besides, the right to bear arms is not an absolute right anyway, as New York's Sullivan Law proves. We talk about ourselves as a violent society, and some of that is right and some of it is claptrap. But I think if you took away the guns, and I mean really take away the guns, not what Congress is doing now, you would see that violent society diminish considerably."
-- PBS NewsHour essayist Roger Rosenblatt, May 20. [61 points]

Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis, first runner-up:

"If you take that penny, for instance, out of the National Institutes of Health grants, that may be the penny that cures cancer. Are you willing to do that?"
-- ABC's Sam Donaldson to House Majority Whip Tom DeLay on the proposed 1.4 percent across-the-board non-entitlement spending reduction, October 24 This Week. [43 points]

See No Evil Award (for Burying the Juanita Broaddrick Rape Charge), first runner-up:

"I don't believe it at all. Anybody who waits 21 years to surface a charge like this, and has no evidence to back it up, other than very circumstantial, what she may or may not have told some of her friends at the time, has sworn in the deposition that it never happened, and now all of a sudden comes forth with this story, the story doesn't deserve to be dignified by being broadcast and displayed. What I find fascinating about this case is that we've sunk so low now that a charge of this magnitude can be leveled against the President of the United States with next to no evidence at all. I think that's outrageous."
-- Time national correspondent Jack E. White, February 27 Inside Washington. [46 points]

Politics of Personal Destruction Award (for Geraldo Rivera's Hatemongering), first runner-up:

"Today's Washington Post [editorial] says...'Mr. Starr should be remembered as a man who, hampered alike by intensely adverse conditions and by his own missteps, managed to perform a significant public service,' end quote. Missteps? What would The Washington Post call the Lincoln assassination? Missteps?"
-- Rivera on CNBC's Rivera Live, October 20. [51 points]

Doris Kearns Goodwin Award (for Campaigning to Revive the Camelot Myth), first runner-up:

"I would say to conservatives out there, to Republicans, to anybody watching, whether they loved Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater or Franklin Roosevelt, whatever. What this family represents is the idea of heroism in politics."
-- Newsweek's Howard Fineman, July 19 Hardball. [56 points]

Back tomorrow with the second and third runners-up.

 -- Brent Baker


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