Bush's Anti-Minority Census; No Outrage Over Byrd's Racially-Derogatory Comment; Ted Turner: Are You "a Bunch of Jesus Freaks?"
1) Without noting how the civil service staff at the
Census Bureau had recommended against using statistically-adjusted
numbers, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows all asserted that the standard
numerical count, favored by Commerce Secretary Don Evans, missed many
minorities and the poor.
2) The cable and broadcast networks have ignored how the
Senate's senior Democrat used a racially-derogatory term in a TV
interview, the panel on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume observed.
"There would have been a huge uproar" if Jesse Helms had said
it, FNC's Jim Angle suggested.
3) Ted Turner to attendees at Bernard Shaw's retirement
party on Ash Wednesday who had smudges on their foreheads, as reported by
FNC's Brit Hume: "What are you, a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought
to be working for Fox."
4) Instead of asking Senator Arlen Specter if he had any
regrets about voting against convicting Bill Clinton, she wanted to know
if he had "any regrets" about accusing Anita Hill of perjury.
5) So far, the broadcast networks have avoided pushing
more gun control in the wake of the Santee school shooting, but both CNN
and MSNBC delved into the subject on Tuesday night.
6) CBS's Barry Petersen pointed out that while the
Japanese have demanded apologies for the U.S. sinking of a fishing boat,
Japan has never apologized for "the brutal treatment of American
prisoners during World War II."
7) Conservative Paul Greenberg is back on the air at a
Little Rock public radio station.
wonder many minorities see Republicans and conservatives as their enemies.
Tuesday night, without bothering to point out how the civil service staff
at the Census Bureau had recommended against using statistically-adjusted
numbers, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows all asserted that the standard
numerical count, which Commerce Secretary Don Evans decided to use, missed
many of the poor and minorities.
ABC's Peter Jennings at least attributed the claim
to Democrats, but CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Tom Brokaw asserted it as
fact. Brokaw highlighted how the decision was made "despite estimates
showing as many as three million, three hundred thousand people, mostly
minorities in big cities, were missed by the count." Of course, none
of the stories relayed the conservative point that the Constitution calls
for an "enumeration," not a statistical estimate.
Here are the short items read by each anchor on
Tuesday night, March 6:
-- Peter Jennings on ABC's World News Tonight:
"The Bush administration has declared the initial raw head count from
the U.S. Census to be the country's official population. This ends a
fierce dispute over the numbers, which determine billions of dollars in
government spending and the allocation of seats in the Congress. The
Democrats have said it's an inaccurate count because more than three
million people according to them, mostly minorities, were not
-- Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News tied the
decision directly to President Bush: "Team Bush is moving tonight on
two issues with widespread political and social impact. First, Commerce
Secretary Donald Evans, carrying out the President's wishes, has now
officially decided the 2000 Census will not be adjusted to make up for any
undercount of the nation's poor and minorities. And then there are the
major regulation changes issued by the Clinton White House, designed to
reduce workplace injuries. Those rules could be dead before they're ever
Bob Schieffer went on to provide a story on how the
Senate will block Clinton's motion injury rules opposed by "big
-- Tom Brokaw on the NBC Nightly News: "A
battle that's been brewing for more than a year over the 2000 Census is
over tonight. The Bush administration has declared the raw head count from
last year's census to be the official population number for redrawing
congressional districts. This despite estimates showing as many as three
million, three hundred thousand people, mostly minorities in big cities,
were missed by the count. Democrats and civil rights leaders had been
pushing for a statistically-adjusted total to protect against an
undercount of minorities in this country."
Last Friday, March 2, the Washington Post reported
that the Census Bureau's non-political civil service staff had
recommended against using adjusted numbers because they were not
necessarily any more accurate than the raw numerical count.
An excerpt from the story by reporter D'Vera Cohn:
Census Bureau officials yesterday urged against adjusting the 2000
Census to compensate for people who were missed, dashing the hopes of
Democrats and civil rights leaders that such an adjustment could be used
in redrawing political boundaries.
The recommendation was a surprise because census officials previously
have portrayed adjustment as a solution to chronic undercounts. But
yesterday, they said they could not guarantee that adjusted census numbers
would be more accurate than results from mail-in questionnaires and a
door-to-door count last year.
A survey conducted after the head count concluded that the census had
missed 3 million people, including a disproportionate number of
minorities. But census officials said yesterday they had questions about
the validity of that survey and until those questions are answered, which
could be months, they could not recommend adjustment.
"We were afraid it would be less accurate," said John H.
Thompson, associate census director....
Census officials said they did not have enough confidence in the
adjusted numbers to release them yet, though they expect to do so
"The issue is: Is it fit for use?" said William G. Barron,
acting census director. "And I don't think we can say that
The decision by a committee of a dozen career census professionals was
based on an analysis of a 314,000-household survey conducted last summer
as a quality check on the head count last year. The survey concluded that
the census had done a better job than it had in 1990, though many people
had been left out.
But census officials say they could not rely on the survey as the basis
for adjusting census figures because they were troubled about possible
statistical errors and discrepancies with other official documents, such
as birth, death and immigration records.
Jesse Helms had said it "there would have been a huge uproar."
The panel Tuesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume took up
the lack of network media reaction to the use of a racially-derogatory
term by Democratic Senator Robert Byrd made during a taped interview with
Tony Snow shown on this past weekend's Fox News Sunday.
First, a summary of what he said and reaction to it
as reported in Monday's USA Today, one of the few stories about it:
"Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., used a derogatory
racial term on Fox News Sunday during a discussion of race relations.
Byrd, 83, said that racial problems 'are largely behind us.' But he
also said that 'there are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white
niggers in my time; I'm going to use that word.' After the taping
Friday, Byrd apologized for using the word, according to a statement read
on the show Sunday. 'The phrase dates back to my boyhood and has no
place in today's society,' he said. 'I had no intention of casting
aspersions on anyone of another race.' A former majority leader and
president pro tem of the Senate, Byrd referred to his once joining the Ku
Klux Klan: 'I made a mistake when I was a young man. It's always been an
albatross around my neck.'"
Despite a short article in Monday's Washington
Post quoting NAACP President Kweisi Mfume calling the remark
"repulsive," the larger media have not jumped on this story.
None of the broadcast network morning or evening shows touched it Sunday
night or Monday morning. And while the school shooting and Dick Cheney's
hospitalization gave them an excuse Monday night, not even the other cable
networks caught up on Tuesday night: Not a word on the March 6 editions of
the CNN shows Inside Politics, Wolf Blitzer Reports or CNN Tonight, nor
any mention on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams.
Tuesday night on his FNC program Brit Hume raised
the lack of media interest. Hume set up the roundtable discussion segment,
as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Over the weekend on Fox News Sunday, Senator
Robert Byrd, the senior Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Senator of West
Virginia, used the 'N word' in a certain context with reference to
white people. And today, Tuesday, Dick Armey, the Majority Leader of the
House of Representatives, a Republican, had something to say about that.
And what Armey said was, 'I think it was stupid and I think that since
he is a Democrat, he'll be forgiven. I was appalled by it,' he later
added. 'I couldn't believe it.' Question: Is Dick Armey right?
Mara Liaison of NPR recalled how Armey might be
especially sensitive since he was condemned for once referring to Barney
Frank as "Barney Fag."
Hume observed: "Compared to this, wasn't the
'Barney Fag' thing more of an uproar than this is?"
Fred Barnes suggested a contrast with media reaction
to something Jesse Helms once said: "Look, just think if Jesse Helms
of North Carolina, the Republican Senator, had said this, I'm telling
you this would be the lead every night until he went back to North
Carolina. I mean there would be an effort to get him to resign. Now just
remember when he jokingly said a couple of years ago that well gee, if
Bill Clinton comes down to North Carolina, he's going to need a body
guard because he was unpopular in North Carolina. It was in about the
twenty-fourth graph of a story in a North Carolina newspaper, was plucked
out of there and it was a story for days about Jesse Helms threatening
President Clinton with bodily harm. It was a joke."
Hume turned to FNC reporter Jim Angle:
"What's your sense of what would happen had this been a senior
Republican on a par with Byrd like Helms?"
Angle confirmed: "Oh, there would have been a huge
uproar. I mean you did have Kweisi Mfume of the NAACP saying this was
repulsive and revealing, but one does get the sense that it will die down
fairly quickly, that at least what Mfume was saying was, you know, it's
very revealing, you sort of get sense of Byrd, but it's not going to
have the lasting impact and it's not going to tar the party in a way
that it would if a Republican had said it."
Yes indeed thanks to a lack of media outrage.
Turner insulted attendees at Bernard Shaw's retirement party, asking
those on Ash Wednesday with a smudge on their foreheads if they were
"a bunch of Jesus freaks," FNC's Brit Hume reported Tuesday
Hume revealed during his "Grapevine"
segment on Special Report with Brit Hume:
"CNN founder Ted Turner, in town last week for a
retirement party for anchor Bernard Shaw, left the staff stunned after
meeting with them at the network's Washington bureau. It was Ash
Wednesday and a number of those present still had a smudge on their
forehead. 'What are you?' asked Turner, 'a bunch of Jesus freaks?
You ought to be working for Fox.' Turner, it may be remembered, stirred
controversy a decade ago when he said Christianity is, quote, 'for
losers.' He apologized for that, but as recently as last August
criticized Christianity for being, quote, 'very intolerant.'"
Sounds like he's the intolerant one.
his recent outrage over Bill Clinton's pardons, you'd think a reporter
might ask Senator Arlen Specter if he "regrets" voting not
guilty in Clinton's Senate trial. Or, in Specter's bizarre parlance,
"not proven" under "Scottish law." But no, given a
chance to review Specter's career, NBC's Katie Couric wanted to know
if he had "any regrets" for accusing Anita Hill of perjury.
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed the question
during a Tuesday Today interview with the liberal Republican Senator about
his new book on his career. She started by asking him about his work for
the Warren Commission, but soon arrived at this question:
"You know you, you angered a lot of feminists when
you accused Anita Hill. In fact you detail how she changed her testimony
during questioning, during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. And
you accused of her publicly, quote, 'Flat out perjury.' Any regrets?"
the broadcast networks have avoided raising gun control in the aftermath
of the Santee, California school shooting, but on Tuesday night both CNN
and MSNBC devoted segments to it. On Monday night and Tuesday morning and
night about the closest ABC, CBS or NBC got to the issue was this
observation by Bill Whitaker on Monday's CBS Evening News: "The
young man in custody tonight is small for his age, no one thought him
capable of such violence...but there were so many warnings signs and
Tuesday's The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC
brought aboard Washington Post reporter John Lancaster to discuss, as
prompted by Brian Williams, "What happened to the discussion of gun
control that followed Columbine?"
On Monday and Tuesday night on Inside Politics
CNN's Judy Woodruff asked guests about gun control and Wolf Blitzer
devoted a whole segment of Tuesday's Wolf Blitzer Reports to the subject
as he conducted a live interview with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions and
Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein. Blitzer did press Feinstein with
Sessions's point that California already has tough gun laws, including a
ban on gun possession by anyone under 18.
But no network has yet devoted a story to the
failure of California's gun control laws. MRC Communications Director
Liz Swasey passed along a list of some of the laws in place in California:
-- Juvenile gun ban: A person under 18 may not
possess a handgun except with written permission or under the supervision
of a parent or guardian. A minor under 16 may not possess live ammunition
except with the written permission or under the supervision of a parent or
guardian, or while going to or from an organized lawful recreational or
competitive shooting activity or lawful hunting activity.
-- Background checks on all gun sales:
Transfer or sale of all firearms (including those exhibited at gun shows)
must be made by a licensed California gun dealer. A record of each sale is
sent by the dealer to the California Department of Justice and the local
police chief or sheriff, who conduct a background check including a check
of the National Instant Check System (NICS).
-- No transfers to juveniles: It is unlawful for any
person to transfer any firearm to a person who is forbidden to possess or
own a firearm. A dealer may not transfer a pistol (or handgun ammunition)
to a person under 21 or other firearm to a person under 18.
-- Gun registration for new residents: Within 60
days of bringing a handgun into California, the person importing the
firearm must complete and return a Department of Justice registration form
or sell or transfer the firearm to a licensed dealer, sheriff or police
-- Waiting period: There is a 10-day waiting period
before delivery of any firearm.
-- Mandatory training: No handgun shall be delivered
or sold unless the person receiving the firearm presents to the gun dealer
a basic firearms safety certificate approved by the California Department
-- Restrictive carry laws: It is unlawful to carry a
loaded rifle, shotgun, or handgun in any public place or on any public
street in an incorporated area or an area where firing a firearm is
prohibited. Carrying a handgun concealed is prohibited without a license,
which is difficult or impossible to obtain in many California
-- Adult liability for juvenile crimes: It is
unlawful (with limited exceptions) to store a loaded firearm where the
person knows or reasonably should know that a child under 16 is likely to
gain access to the firearm without the permission of the child's parent or
legal guardian and the child obtains access to the firearm and causes
death or great bodily harm to self or any other person. Gun dealers must
post a sign advising "If you leave a loaded firearm where a child
obtains and improperly uses it, you may be fined or sent to prison."
-- Gun-free schools: It is unlawful to possess a
firearm on the grounds or in the buildings of any school without
permission of the school authorities.
As you watch the news over the next few days see
whether reporters focus more on the need for more laws or more on how the
present laws did not prevent the tragedy.
Japanese never apologized. Last Friday night the CBS Evening News gave
time to a historical point I've not seen explored elsewhere in the
aftermath of the submarine crash into a Japanese fishing boat, though a
guest did mention it Tuesday night on ABC's Nightline: How the Japanese
have never apologized for their war crimes.
In a March 2 CBS Evening News story, Tokyo-based CBS
reporter Barry Petersen showed how a long list of U.S. officials, from
President Bush to the ambassador to an admiral, have all apologized for
the incident in which a U.S. submarine sank a Japanese fishing boat,
killing several aboard.
Then Petersen observed: "Yet look at what the
Japanese have never apologized for, like the estimated 350,000 Chinese
slaughtered in Nanking, China, by a conquering Japanese army. It's an
undisputed fact everywhere but in Japan."
After a Japanese historian confirmed that
"there is certain historians that believe that there was no killing
of civilians at Nanking," Petersen continued: "And the brutal
treatment of American prisoners during World War II. No apologies to them,
either. And just last month, a former defense minister said America's
pre-war trade embargo forced an unwilling Japan into World War II.
Translation: Pearl Harbor was America's fault, so no need for the Japanese
to say sorry."
Petersen concluded: "Between two countries, it
seems, making apologies is not always a two-way street."
update on an item from last week: Paul Greenberg has been returned to the
air by the Arkansas public radio station which had dropped his
conservative commentary while continuing to air commentary from his
liberal counterpart. See the March 1 CyberAlert for details: http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010301.asp#5
It turns out that by the time I had run the item,
based on a Jim Romenesko MediaNews plug for the February 25 column by Paul
Greenberg, editorial page editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the
situation had been resolved.
An excerpt from Greenberg's February 28 column:
It's such a pleasure to be writing today's column. How often does a guy
go from anger and resentment to agreement and gratitude within 48 hours?
From feeling beleaguered and alone to being assured and cheered by a wave
of support from all over the state and beyond?
It all started when I was told not to show up for my weekly broadcast
on public radio because my views had drawn criticism. Even though I'd been
asked to do the commentary precisely because of my views, which were
intended to balance those of the station's liberal commentator, John
Why the turnaround? A brief e-mail last week from Ben Fry, KUAR's
station manager, offered two explanations, both of which defied belief:
First, my dismissal wasn't a dismissal because I would be considered for a
representative panel of opinion in the future. Second, John Brummett's
liberal commentary wasn't liberal commentary but a "feature,"
more "reporting...than an essay."
Furious, I sat down and punched out a two-part reply to Ben, which
said, among quite a few other things: 1. "Your claim that I was not
given the ax at KUAR is, let us say, interesting. If your boss told you
not to show up for work any more but added that maybe at some future time
you might be included in a panel that would do your job, would you have
any doubt that you were being let go?"....
On Monday, the first message I found atop the pile of phone slips
waiting for me at the office came from...John Brummett. He told me he
agreed that his comments on KUAR were opinionated, and he suggested that
he and I share air time -- so listeners would get two views to choose
from. I am ashamed to confess that I was surprised. And humbled. I only
hope that if John Brummett's opinions are ever censored, I can be as quick
to rise to his defense....
Shortly after John Brummett and I had talked Monday, KUAR's Ben Fry was
on the line proposing that both John and I answer questions on a weekly
broadcast. Ben said he'd always wanted to offer different views on KUAR. I
was happy to hear it, and eager to accept his proposal. Why hold a grudge?
It interferes with the digestion.
So I'm back on the air, together with John, as of 4:50 p.m. Friday. And
looking forward to it.
This whole experience has been heartening. And exhilarating. I had
underestimated my fellow citizens and their instinctive dedication to free
speech. They taught me better. They came out in strength, and I thank
every one of them. Whatever their own political views, they don't like
seeing somebody else's squelched. Hey, this is America.
Greenberg's whole piece may still be on line, but
no guarantees, at:
Oh, and thanks for the numerous responses from
CyberAlert readers who informed me that Paul Greenberg's reference, in
his column excerpted in the March 1 CyberAlert, to "the ledge,"
was short-hand for the Arkansas legislature. --Brent Baker
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