NBC: 4 Seconds for Hsia, 6 for LaBella; Bush Sold "His Soul to the Wrong Group"
1) Four seconds on Maria Hsia and six seconds, sort of, on the
LaBella memo in the middle of a NBC Nightly News story Monday on how Gore's
team thinks campaign finance reform can be "a winning issue for
2) MRC's Tim Graham appeared on FNC's The O'Reilly
Factor Monday night to discuss why the networks are avoiding the LaBella memo.
3) Dan Rather focused on how Bush is supposedly being hurt by
"cozying up to the self-described religious right." Reporter Richard
Schlessinger asked: "Did George Bush sell his soul to the wrong
4) How to get your cause onto the CBS Evening News? If
you're a liberal group, put out a press release. Last Thursday the show ran
three stories prompted by liberal press releases on global warming, harassment
of gays in the military and saving fish.
5) The latest edition of the Free Market Project's
MediaNomics is now online: NBC's Law & Order Presents Biased View of the
Stock Market; CBS Lauds Anti-Corporate Trial Lawyer; Freedom vs. Rollerblades.
Now on newsstands: The March 20 edition of Fortune magazine featuring a column
on the study by the MRC's Free Market Project of how the network evening
shows covered the tax plans offered by GOP presidential candidates. "TV
Networks Tune Out Economists," read the headline over the column by Rob
Norton. The subhead: "The nets' coverage of economic issues in the
primary season has been pitiful: In six months of newscasts, they didn't put a
single economist on camera."
"Now, the MRC is a conservative outfit and has its own (pro-tax cut)
agenda, so three of the main conclusions it draws from the study reflect its
beefs: First, the nets largely ignored Steve Forbes' ambitious flat-tax
proposal (unlike in 1996, when they paid it lots of attention). By
'dismissing Forbes,' the MRC says, 'the networks were also excluding the
most conservative tax-reduction plan from the news agenda.' Second, George
W. Bush's tax-cut plan was repeatedly labeled 'big' and 'huge' and was
often accompanied by Democratic criticisms that it was 'irresponsible.'
Third, the nets never questioned John McCain's assertion that a smaller tax
cut was essential to protecting and preserving Social Security....
"But the study's
fourth major conclusion is one that should concern anybody seriously
interested in economics and public policy. The MRC found that in all of the 36
economics-related segments, which included 58 'talking head' interviews,
not a single economist was quoted during the entire six months....
"It's not that
economists are any more boring or inaccessible or incomprehensible than
experts in other fields. The most likely reason they've been kept off TV, in
the words of Richard Noyes, who directed the MRC study, is that 'the media
are much more fascinated by the process of campaign 2000 and less interested
in the issues.'"
To read the entire
piece, which is not online, go to page 64 of the March 20 Fortune. To read the
actual study, go to:
the NBC Nightly News allocated four seconds to Maria Hsia and six seconds to
the Charles LaBella memo in the midst of a piece on how "Gore and his
advisors now believe" that campaign finance reform "can actually be
a winning issue for them and a critical overture to John McCain's
Four and six seconds was hardly enough time to explain
either development, but reporter Claire Shipman's vague six-second reference
to "newly leaked Justice Department documents" is still more detail
than yet relayed by ABC's World News Tonight. As noted in the March 13
CyberAlert, last Friday the Los Angeles Times disclosed the LaBella memo and
its allegations about special treatment of Gore and the Clintons and
suggestions that Gore may have misled investigators. All the morning shows
skipped it as did the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows. CBS got to in its
Saturday night show bumped by sports from most ET and CT affiliates.
NBC's story aired eleven days after Maria Hsia's
March 2 conviction on five counts for money laundering, a development the NBC
Nightly News ignored at the time while ABC gave it 19 seconds and CBS
dedicated 23 seconds to it, and five days after radio's Don Imus zinged Tom
Brokaw by pointing out how NBC News never reported the Hsia convictions. (See
the March 13 CyberAlert for details.)
Monday night, March 13,
Brokaw introduced the story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"There are big
state primaries tomorrow, but the nominations are already wrapped up, so the
general campaign is under way, and Vice President Al Gore is picking up John
McCain's themes and attacking Texas Governor George W. Bush. Gore is
portraying himself as a reformer on campaign finances, and that has outraged
Claire Shipman began: "Al Gore today in Florida,
again trying to spin weakness into strength, criticizing George W. Bush for
not supporting campaign finance reform, challenging him to a joint ban on soft
money -- unregulated political contributions."
Al Gore: "All he
has to do is say yes."
hits back with what his advisors say will be a central campaign theme -- that
Gore is a hypocrite."
George W. Bush:
"This guy's gonna say anything to get elected. I read the newspaper
yesterday where all of a sudden he's for campaign funding reform."
Shipman then got to her very brief references to Hsia
and the LaBella memo, though she never uttered the name LaBella nor explained
what he revealed:
Democratic fundraising scandal of 1996, and Al Gore's controversial
appearance at a Buddhist temple, and the recent conviction of Democratic
fundraiser and Gore friend Maria Hsia, and the fact that newly leaked Justice
Department documents raise more questions about what Gore knew and when, it
does seem unlikely he would make campaign finance a key campaign issue. But
Gore and his advisors now believe that it can actually be a winning issue for
them and a critical overture to John McCain's voters. The first step,
learning something from McCain's willingness to embrace mistakes."
(You had to read carefully to catch the two references.
I measured this at four seconds for Hsia: "and the recent conviction of
Democratic fundraiser and Gore friend Maria Hsia." And I measured this at
six seconds for LaBella: "and the fact that newly leaked Justice
Department documents raise more questions about what Gore knew and
To illustrate how Gore is following McCain's script
she then showed some clips of Gore admitting mistakes, before continuing:
"And Gore aides
say he's determined to try now because he's committed to the issue, he's
supported reform legislation, and is tired of being embarrassed by 1996. He
wants to send a signal to Bush that he's not afraid of any issue, and aides
say it's better to remind voters of scenes like these now [video of Gore at
Buddhist temple] than just before election day, and finally, he and his team
think that Bush, who hasn't embraced reform, is vulnerable. Campaign finance
reform advocates say both Gore and Bush have a lot to prove."
Scott Harshbarger, President of Common Cause, served as
Shipman's sole expert even though he's a biased player in the process who
favors a liberal regulatory scheme to limit free speech: "Gore has the
right policy. He's gotta show that it really means something, that he's
different from Clinton on this, that he will actually make it happen. Bush has
to show that he cares at all."
Shipman concluded: "A critical question, does the
public care? Only a small group of voters considers it a priority. In this NBC
poll, the issue ranks well below health care and Social Security, for example.
Still, in a tight race, which both sides say this will be, even a small group
of voters can prove decisive."
More of the public might care if more of the masses who
are casual news consumers who rely on network news heard a bit about
convictions and Justice Department cover-ups and less about campaign
Incredibly, the combined ten seconds on Nightly News
about Hsia and LaBella is still more time than Today has spent on either
subject as the show has ignored both through Monday morning. In a March 13
Today story observed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, reporter David Gregory
raised Bush's criticism for Gore over fundraising but failed to take the
opportunity to tell viewers about Hsia or LaBella even though Gregory
specifically mentioned the Buddhist temple fundraiser which Hsia organized.
After a soundbite from Bush, Gregory noted: "Though
Gore now openly apologizes for campaign finance excesses of the '96 campaign
including the Buddhist Temple fundraiser, Bush advisors say the Vice President
remains an easy target. Said one, Gore is picking the wrong issue to take a
stand as a reformer."
MRC's Tim Graham appeared Monday night on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor to
discuss why the broadcast networks have refused to cover the disclosure of the
Charles LaBella memo. Up against host Bill O'Reilly, who attributed the
problem to network executives not wanting to rock any boats and who maintained
he never saw any liberal bias during his years at ABC News, Graham held his
own and offered several examples of the media's disparate treatment of Gore
If you missed the show, Tuesday morning MRC Webmaster
Andy Szul will post a portion of the interview, in RealPlayer format, on the
MRC home page: http://archive.mrc.org
Evening News has yet to run a story on how Al Gore's alliance with the
far-left race-baiter Al Sharpton could hurt him with the wider electorate, but
Monday night, without identifying a single issue on which George W. Bush has
moved rightward from his at best moderately conservative positions, CBS
stressed the downside of Bush's supposed "cozying up to the
self-described religious right." Serving as CBS's lead experts:
Opportunistic New York Congressman John King and Scott Reed, who ran Dole's
disastrous 1996 campaign.
Dan Rather announced late in the March 13 broadcast:
"One issue that is
sure to come up in the fall campaign that has already surfaced is Bush cozying
up to the self-described religious right, including the Reverends Pat
Robertson and Jerry Falwell. CBS's Richard Schlessinger has been digging
into this campaign 2000 story line, chapter and verse."
How much "digging" was necessary? This has
been the media line for weeks. And as you'll see, there was not a single new
thing in his story.
Over video of Bush on stage at Bob Jones University
greeting the college's President, Schlessinger began: "If it's McCain
voters the candidates want, this hug could be the kiss of death for the Bush
campaign. His appearance at Bob Jones University, a bastion of the Christian
right, helped Bush win, but at what price?"
Congressman, R-NY: "George Bush certainly allowed himself to get too
close to the elements of the Christian Right, which are gonna scare off people
in other parts of the country."
Schlessinger beefed up
King's credentials as a conservative: "He might not sound like it, but
New York Congressman Peter King is a Republican. He supported John McCain, but
he has a 100 percent approval rating from, of all groups, the Christian
Coalition. Still, he worries about the GOP's alliance with the reverends of
the right, including Jerry Falwell."
certainly hurts us in areas like the Northeast and the Midwest because we're
viewed as being intolerant. There's a self-righteousness to their religious
Schlessinger then asserted
without citing any actual data: "Polls show the Christian right
contributed to the defeats of George Bush's father and Bob Dole. Dole's
campaign chairman recommends George W. Bush stay away from Pat
Scott Reed, former Dole
campaign manager: "He is a bad symbol right now for George W. Bush as
Schlessinger jumped in:
"I can't believe I'm hearing a big Republican strategist say that.
How times have changed."
Haley Barbour, who ran the Republican Party when Dole ran for President,
remembers a kinder, gentler Christian Right that was, above all, loyal."
"One of the good things I like about working with them is once we have a
nominee, even if it's not who they've supported in the primary, they usually
unify behind our nominee."
"Candidates have always jogged to the left and to the right and back to
the center on their way here. The trick is finding your way back to the
center, and a lot of people think Bush will have a tough time doing
Reed: "Bush has
managed to get himself into a little bit of a bind right now. It looks like
his back is up against the wall as these self-appointed leaders attempt to be
calling all the shots on how the campaign should be run."
Could they do a worse job than Reed in 1996?
Schlessinger concluded with this shot: "Pollsters
and pundits and politicians like to describe the primary season as a search
for the soul of a party. Now the question is: Did George Bush sell his soul to
the wrong group?"
Again, "sell his soul" by selling what? Bush
is hardly any kind of, in CBS's terms, "hard-right" Republican.
I'd observe this one story was more than four times
longer than the 23 seconds this same show allocated to Maria Hsia's
CBS's story also reminded me to offer another plug for
the MRC's study released last Friday in our Campaign 2000 Media Reality
Check: Over just eight nights network reporters referred to Bush tilting
toward the right on 15 occasions, "but not one evening news report
described John McCain's attack on the religious right as 'liberal' or
'going to the left.'" Go to:
to get a liberal agenda issue promoted on the CBS Evening News. Just put out a
press release. Last Thursday night's show provided an illustrative example
of CBS's news judgment as the program ran three stories generated by
announcements or claims from liberal groups. Conservative groups can only
dream of such uncritical media acceptance.
-- Story #1: Dan Rather opened the March 9 show, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "CBS News has new and exclusive
information tonight about important changes in the climate. U.S. weather
experts will officially report tomorrow that winter 2000 is the warmest on
record in the USA and a record warm winter for the third year in a row."
Jim Axelrod went first to liberal environmental advocate
James Baker, who now runs NOAA, who claimed: "This winter, the last
December, January, and February which just ended is the warmest winter on
record in the United States. Every state in the country for this past winter
was warmer than normal."
Axelrod then went to his left-wing source: "It
hasn't been just this year, the last three winters are the three warmest on
record. A trend that's raising concerns as well as temperatures."
Alden Meyer, Union of
Concerned Scientists: "I think it's one of the most fundamental
challenges that faces us in the 21st century."
Meyer sees more than just La Nina. In the climbing temperatures he sees damage
done by factory and automobile emissions, global warming he says that requires
a global warning."
Meyer: "It affects
everything from the environment to food production, to human health, to the
way we grow our food, the way we transport our goods and services, the way we
live our lives basically."
Of course, most climatologists don't believe the Earth
is really warming, but they can't get their press releases turned into CBS
-- Story #2: Later in the show Rather plugged a
"report" from a liberal advocacy group he failed to identify:
"Under the U.S. Defense Department's official don't ask don't tell policy
gays in the military are supposed to be allowed to serve as long as they don't
reveal their homosexuality. But a new report offers evidence that it may not
be working out quite that way and President Clinton says he is quote,
David Martin passed along an anecdote about a female
sailor harassed by shipmates for being a lesbian: "She complained through
Navy channels but nothing happened....Fearing for her safety, she admitted she
was gay and was kicked out of the service."
C. Dixon Osburn of the Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network, the apparent source of the "report," asserted:
"Service members are coerced into telling, they're hounded, they're
harassed, they're chased out of the service."
Martin relayed the claim in the report but did not cite
the group's name: "The Pentagon says it will not tolerate harassment,
but a new report by a gay rights group says there were nearly 1,000 cases of
gay harassment in the military last year. Double the year before."
-- Story #3: A few
minutes later Rather wrapped up CBS's liberal trilogy by highlighting a
complaint from an unnamed "environmental group." Rather announced:
"There was another unwanted prize today for a majestic river of the
Pacific Northwest. Once the happy hunting ground for Native Americans and
traveled by legendary explorers Lewis and Clark. For the second straight year,
an environmental group calls the Snake this nation's most endangered river
with a dwindling salmon population. Keeping the fish from extinction calls for
a radical solution."
Jerry Bowen explained how environmentalists in Oregon
and Washington wish to tear down dams along the Snake River which have impeded
the migration of salmon to spawning areas, but that would leave the river
"too low for the barges and power plants to run, too."
Bowen explained how Oregon's Governor has devised a
plan to ensure those hurt by the elimination of the dams are compensated.
Bowen then continued with the liberal environmental agenda: "The Snake
River dams are the biggest targets in a campaign to remove unneeded or
environmentally harmful dams from America's rivers. The Matilija here in
California is also on the list. But it would cost an estimated $80 million to
dismantle it just so fish can migrate freely upriver again. Proponents argue
it will cost much more if the dams remain, especially the Snake River
Bowen concluded: "Environmentalists were lobbying
hard in Washington today but a final proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers
isn't likely until after the elections. Meanwhile, the clock is running for
the fish and dams alike. Massive structures the salmon can't live with, and
some people claim they can't live without."
While Bowen didn't mention them, his story appeared
the very day a group called American Rivers held a press conference in
Washington, DC to name the Snake River the most endangered in the country.
The March 10
MediaNomics, a report from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP), is now
online. The articles researched and written by FMP Director Rich Noyes:
-- NBC's Law & Order Presents Biased View of the
Stock Market. NBC's Law & Order, a
gritty police and legal drama set in New York City, advertises the fact that
it often presents cases "ripped from the headlines" -- dramatic
episodes based on current news topics. But in a recent episode of the
Wednesday night program, the writers seemed intent on presenting the market as
a risky and terrifying place. The stock market itself was portrayed as a
gambling casino rigged by insiders, while brokers were shown as coldly
calculating greed machines who bilk customers with "pump and dump"
Internet stock frauds.
-- CBS Lauds Anti-Corporate Trial Lawyer. The difference
between a tough interview and a puffball interview is whether or not the
questioner confronts the interviewee with the words of his worst critics, or
just sits back and lets them tell their own story. When CBS's Dan Rather
recently profiled trial lawyer Dickie Skruggs on 60 Minutes II, it was
definitely not a tough interview.
-- Freedom vs. Rollerblades. On Sunday, March 5,
Washington Post business columnist Michelle Singletary weighed in with her own
observations of the case of Elian Gonzalez, the youngster who has lived in the
United States since late November, when his mother and nine other people died
while fleeing Cuba. Her column, written after a visit to the
Communist-controlled island, is noteworthy
for the completeness with which she missed the point of the entire
To read these stories, go to:
If you find these kinds of articles interesting, you can
sign up to get them via e-mail. Check the bottom of the page at the above link
and the bottom of each article for instructions on how to sign up for Rich's
FMP e-mail list.
So far, Rich only has 0.3 percent as many subscribers as
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