Thanks to Clinton "Less to Worry About"; Indignant About Q's to Hillary
1) Peter Jennings trumpeted how Bill Clinton "wants more
health care for more Americans" so that millions "have something
less to worry about." Reporter Dean Reynolds deplored how George Bush
"has done almost nothing to slow down or limit" executions in Texas.
2) An incensed Bob Schieffer condemned a Buffalo talk show
host for daring to ask Hillary if she had an affair with Vince Foster. Dan
Rather warned that Bush launched "a heavy-money television campaign to
unload negatively on McCain."
3) An Un-Rather point. NBC's George Lewis: "Scientists
say the temperature shift influencing the weather is a natural occurrence not
caused by global warming."
4) Just like ABC and NBC, CNN also uncritically relayed the
claims of two liberal groups about how the rich are getting richer, but
"the poor are by no means keeping pace."
5) The FCC thinks TV has too much religion and has set out to
cut it, CNSNews.com's Justin Torres recounted in The Weekly Standard.
>>> MRC at CPAC. The near-annual Sam Donaldson versus Bob Novak
debate about media bias will take place from 2 to 3pm Thursday afternoon
during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference being held this
year at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Virginia. MRC Chairman L.
Brent Bozell will serve as moderator. At 4pm on Saturday the MRC's Tim
Graham will take part in a panel titled "Why Certain Stories Don't Get
Covered by the Media." And for all three days MRC Marketing Director
Bonnie Goff has set up a booth featuring many of the MRC's fine products.
So, if you plan to attend CPAC, stop by. Some portions of CPAC will probably
air on C-SPAN live or later on tape. <<<
Jennings opened Wednesday's World News Tonight by campaigning for President
Clinton's latest health care plan, heralding how Clinton "wants more
health care for more Americans" so that millions, "especially with
lower incomes, have something less to worry about." Minutes later
reporter Dean Reynolds campaigned against George W. Bush, lamenting how
"he has done almost nothing to slow down or limit" executions in
Texas. Reynolds contrasted Bush's support for capital punishment with how he
"has frequently cited his faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his
own belief that conservatism can also be compassionate."
The up front show tease from Jennings on January 19:
"On World News Tonight this Wednesday: President Clinton wants more
health care for more Americans. Is it politically realistic and what does it
do for Vice President Gore?"
After the theme music, Jennings continued his
promotional tone: "President Clinton, who's a lame duck President now,
is making another effort to expand health care coverage. It is the number one
issue for many American families. The President said today that over the next
ten years he wants the government to spend $110 billion more than it does now,
so that millions of Americans, especially with lower incomes, have something
less to worry about. Health care has been an issue for Mr. Clinton ever since
he was elected. He and Mrs. Clinton tried to do too much at first. Today the
President was more modest and he may be more successful."
Jennings sure seemed to hope so.
John Cochran outlined Clinton's plan and pointed out
how the health insurance industry is now on board because Clinton's plan has
them getting money to cover many of the currently uninsured.
Next, picking up on a theme pressed on Tuesday's
Today, which was detailed in the January 19 CyberAlert, ABC jumped on George
W. Bush for not taking up the cause of reducing the number of executions in
Texas. From New Hampshire Dean Reynolds filed a story which assumed Bush is on
the wrong side of the capital punishment issue. Reynolds began by noting how
Texas has had more executions since 1976 than any other state, over 200, with
over half of those occurring during Bush's five years. Two more are
scheduled this week and another four next week.
After playing a soundbite of Bush saying capital
punishment is a deterrent which "saves people's lives," Reynolds
countered that Bush had no evidence and then assumed that Bush should have
been doing things to limit executions:
"Bush says he believes the death penalty is a strong
deterrent, but he admits he has no proof. Moreover, while he alone among
presidential candidates has the executive power to influence executions, he
has done almost nothing to slow down or limit them. Last year he opposed a
bill that would have banned the death penalty for the mentally handicapped.
And though critics of capital punishment say many Texas death row inmates were
badly served by court appointed attorneys, some of whom slept or were on drugs
during trials, Bush insisted reform in the public defender's office was not
the answer. Rick Helperin is a former Amnesty International official who
opposes the death penalty."
Halperin, Southern Methodist University. "I think the
Governor continues to pander to the basest fears about the nature of violent
crime in Texas."
What, like dangerous violent criminals are dangerous
Reynolds then set Halperin up to finish out his leading
thought: "In his campaign for President, Bush has frequently cited his
faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his own belief that conservatism
can also be compassionate."
Halperin: "The compassion must be for all Americans
even if they have done very terrible reprehensible things that we can all
Reynolds concluded: "When pressed on this issue
Governor Bush says he has not executed anyone, Texas has. He is upholding the
law, he says repeatedly, 'it's the law.'"
One which Reynolds and ABC seem to find troubling. In
haranguing Bush Reynolds failed to explain that unlike how it is in many
states, the Governor of Texas has very little power to stop any particular
Clinton came under a barrage of very personal questions about her
personal life," rued Dan Rather in plugging a story only CBS, of the
broadcast networks, mentioned Wednesday night. Like ABC, the CBS Evening News
led with Clinton's health care plan, but they soon got to condemning the
personal questions posed to Hillary by a Buffalo talk show host.
Rather opened the broadcast: "Good evening. The
President and the First Lady were front and center in Campaign 2000 today,
separately and, in Mrs. Clinton's case, unintentionally. The President
weighed in with an ambitious plan for health insurance reform. It looked a lot
like Al Gore's. And, in a sign of what's to come in the Senate race in New
York, Mrs. Clinton came under a barrage of very personal questions about her
Following a piece by John Roberts on health care, Bob
Schieffer looked at Hillary hitting the reality of a Senate campaign in some
media interviews in Buffalo. He noted that "her debut on Letterman went
swimmingly, but last night in Buffalo New York she was blind-sided by a TV
reporter who asked, are you planning to leave your husband when his presidency
is over? Clearly taken aback she responded, 'I certainly intend to spend the
rest of my life with him.' But that was just a warmup for a Buffalo radio
interviewer who followed up this morning."
Audio of host Tom Bauerle on WGR Radio: "Mrs. Clinton,
you're going to hate me, you were on television last night talking about
your relationship with the President, Bill Clinton. Have you ever been
sexually unfaithful to him and specifically the stories about you and Vince
Foster. Any truth in those?"
Hillary Clinton on WGR via phone: "I do hate you for
that, because you know, those questions I think are really out of bounds and
everybody who knows me knows the answers to those questions."
Bauerle: "Is the answer no?"
Hillary "Well yes, of course it's no, but it's an
Welcome to the real world, Hillary, outside of the
protective cocoon provided by Washington media elite.
Schieffer acted as if a personal question is a novel new
concept, complaining that the Buffalo incident "underlines just how rough
modern politics has become, says Washington Post media writer Howard
Kurtz: "While I think it's fair game to ask the
First Lady whether she plans to stay married to her husband, these questions
about infidelity and whose she's been fooling around with are completely
salacious, appalling, and shouldn't be part of what we call
Schieffer indignantly concluded: "There is an old
saying among reporters that there are no bad questions, just bad answers. But
today even some veteran reporters are shaking their heads and wondering what
will someone ask next?"
Note that while Rather warned of "a barrage of very
personal questions," CBS could only cite two. A very small
"barrage," though I understand that Bauerle also asked her if
she'd ever used cocaine, which would make it a "barrage" of three
Bauerle's questions may have been
"inappropriate," but at least they were about the 1990s. Last year
CBS provided no protective cover or denouncement of questions on the subject
when George W. Bush was pressed about long ago drug use. Back then, CBS joined
in the pursuit, running full stories two night in a row. Reporters didn't
leave it up to a talk show host to pose personal questions, as Eric Engberg
noted in an August 19 CBS story: "As for whether Bush ever used cocaine
or other drugs, his plan to refuse to reply directly to such questions has
been modified on the fly as the press and opponents pursue the issue."
Bauerle appeared Wednesday night on FNC's The
O'Reilly Factor. He defended his inquiries to host Bill O'Reilly, who
characterized the Foster question as "over the line."
Minutes after slamming the Buffalo media, Dan Rather
used loaded terminology to report on some new Bush ads, as if only CBS News is
allowed to say anything less than glowing about anybody:
"George W. Bush has launched a negative campaign
attack ad against John McCain in New Hampshire. It centers on McCain's
proposal for a tax cut which is half as big as the one Bush is proposing.
McCain has called the $483 billion Bush plan 'a giveaway to the rich that
doesn't help protect Social Security.' This is the first time Bush has
used a heavy-money television campaign to unload negatively on McCain."
An interesting example of journalism. In an item
ostensibly about Bush's ad we learned not what it says but what Bush's
little rationality on global warming at NBC News. As noted in the January 19
CyberAlert, after repeatedly blaming global warming for winter warmth, Tuesday
night Dan Rather attributed this week's frigid temperatures to global
But concluding a Wednesday Nightly News piece on a new
NASA forecast for new weather patterns bought on by shifting ocean currents, a
change which will mean more snow and more drought, NBC's George Lewis
"Scientists say the temperature shift influencing the
weather is a natural occurrence not caused by global warming, and though
humans can't be blamed for causing this, they'll have to suffer the
as ABC and NBC had highlighted Tuesday night, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed
that CNN also failed to properly label two liberal groups as the network
uncritically relayed their ideologically-driven findings. See the January 19
CyberAlert for details on the January 18 ABC and NBC stories as well as a
counterpoint from the Heritage Foundation about how the numbers are
The same night, on CNN's The World Today, anchor Joie
"The booming economy during much of the 1990s
certainly made the rich richer, but it turns out that the poor are by no means
keeping pace. A study by two Washington think tanks show that over the past
ten years, earnings for the richest one-fifth of the nation's families jumped
15 percent to an average of more than $137,000 a year, but for the poorest
families, earnings rose just one percent, to almost $13,000 a year."
The Heritage report outlined how the joint Economic
Policy Institute/Center on Budget and Policy Priorities "study" was
based on Census data which failed to account for much non-cash aid to the poor
and ignored how much money the wealthy have confiscated through taxes.
Let me take this opportunity to make an obvious point:
Even by the numbers issued by the liberal groups, all income levels rose.
Liberals measure things "relatively," so by that reasoning it's
better to have a society where the poor earn $10 a month and the rich $15 a
month than a society where the poor make $1,000 a month and the wealthy pull
couple of weeks ago Justin Torres of the MRC's CNSNews.com was amongst the
first reporters to notice an intriguing aspect of the McCain-FCC controversy:
How in the midst of the station swaps McCain was trying to jump start, the FCC
issued an advisory declaring that religious broadcasting could consume no more
than 50 percent of the programming on stations licensed to noncommercial,
educational frequencies. So, while this does not impact the majority of
religious stations, which operate with commercial licenses, the revelation
piqued the interest of The Weekly Standard.
This week's magazine features a two-page article by
Torres in which he recounted what he discovered the FCC did and then spelled
out the implications. Since the article is not up on the Standard's Web
site, you should go to your newsstand and plunk down $3.95 for it if you're
not already a subscriber. Or, read the excerpt below of the January 24 piece
titled, "TV As a Religion-Free Zone."
When the Boston Globe broke the story of John McCain's phone call to the
Federal Communications Commission on behalf of a campaign contributor, the
media briefly savored the spectacle of America's chief campaign finance
reformer caught in a little old-fashioned influence peddling. What they didn't
do was read the decision the FCC had coughed up in response to McCain's
They should have, for the real story of FCC Order 99-393 is not McCain's
letter at all, but the bombshell buried deep in the innocuous-sounding
"Additional Guidance" portion of the ruling: the imposition of
unprecedented content restrictions on noncommercial religious broadcasters.
The ruling came in the case of two Pittsburgh television stations -- one
public (WQED), the other a commercial religious broadcaster (Cornerstone
TeleVision) -- that had applied to swap licenses. After the swap, McCain
supporter Lowell "Bud" Paxson planned to buy the public station's
license for use by his family-friendly network (Pax TV). The commission
consented to the swap and purchase, but 43 paragraphs into the routine ruling,
it announced that henceforth 50 percent of all noncommercial religious
programming must serve "an educational, instructional, or cultural
purpose in the station's community of license" -- and programming cannot
qualify as "educational, instructional, or cultural" if it includes
"religious exhortation, proselytizing, or statements of personally-held
religious views or beliefs."
The commission was taking direct aim at that minority of religious
broadcasters who operate under "educational" licenses, some 95
stations. According to the new rules, 50 percent of the programming on these
noncommerical stations must be free of what is their stock in trade: church
services, sermons, Bible study, prayer, and all manner of discussion by
believers, including syndicated talk shows hosted by the likes of James Dobson
and D. James Kennedy. The ruling goes on to insist that programs may explore
religion in relation to science, technology, or culture; apply religious
principles to real-life ethical dilemmas; probe the psychological effects of
prayer; and even discuss religious texts from a historical viewpoint -- so
long as the purpose is not to convince listeners that religious teachings are
The commissioners express the hope that their decision will clarify the
rules for noncommercial broadcasting. Plainly, it does the opposite. Even
apart from First Amendment concerns, problems of interpretation loom. It's
hard to imagine, for example, how one might apply biblical principles to
ethical dilemmas without tipping one's hand as to whether one subscribes to
the Ten Commandments. Moreover, members of the board issued a flurry of
separate dissents and concurrences that further cloud the regulations.
Commissioner Susan Ness, in a concurring opinion marked by handwringing about
"tread[ing] carefully to preserve... cherished objectives," wonders,
for example, whether a "performance of Handel's Messiah [would] be
primarily educational if it were performed at the Kennedy Center, but not
primarily educational if it were performed in a church." The implication
is that the FCC will be forced to consider not just the content but the
context of tens of thousands of hours of religious programming....
As startling as the abruptness of the FCC's policy shift is the stealthy
way it was accomplished. By issuing the new guidelines in an adjudicatory
proceeding, the FCC avoided the hearings normally used to elicit public
comment before broad regulatory changes are enacted. And the decision was
released on December 29, 1999, when public attention was focused on the turn
of the millennium and Y2K.
Despite the commissioners' reassurances -- "discussion of religious
matters during a program," they say, does not necessarily "disqualif[y]
the program from being a 'general educational' program" -- the vagueness
of the regulations leaves many uneasy. Commissioners Harold Furchtgott-Roth
and Michael Powell note in their dissent that the guidelines "invite
unnecessary battles over the content of noncommercial programming." They
provide groups like the American Civil Liberties Union the chance to tie up
noncommercial licensing applications in drawn-out legal maneuvers, as lawyers
parse programs for signs of proselytizing. Few noncommercial religious
broadcasters can afford protracted legal battles, and many may decide not to
take the risk.
Caught in the middle, the broadcasters face two equally unpalatable
choices: secularizing their programs, and attempting to comply with vague
regulations almost certain to yield lawsuits. No one knows, for instance,
whether the new guidelines apply to future licensees or stations already in
operation. The latter prospect has the National Religious Broadcasters
Association itself mulling legal action.
With a year to go before a new president could reorient the
Democrat-controlled FCC, the broadcasters' best hope lies in congressional
action. On January 11, representative Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) unveiled
legislation reversing Order 99-393 and requiring the FCC to use its normal
rule-making procedures, with opportunity for public comment, should it seek to
regulate in this area in the future. As of this writing the half-dozen
co-sponsors include House majority leader Dick Armey and one Democrat, Ralph
Hall of Texas. Riding a wave of support from evangelicals, Oxley is undeterred
by FCC chairman William Kennard's disingenuous protestation that the
guidelines merely clarify existing policy. The FCC, for now, is standing firm.
And why not? It has no constituency to please but the administration.
To read the latest news from CNSNews.com, go to:
To read other stories in the latest Weekly Standard, go
It's almost over! Just one more year left in the Bill
and Hillary Clinton presidency.
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