"Easier" to Discriminate; Worried McCain Will be Disappointed; Dreaming of Clinton; Sawyer Forgot "Endowed by Their Creator"
1) "Today the White House backed off a plan it was
considering which would make it easier for charities to discriminate
against gays and lesbians," Peter Jennings asserted in reflecting the
media attitude which assumed it's bad to limit government interference
with religious beliefs. Dan Rather complained about Bush's "latest
bid to win support for funneling more federal tax dollars to what he calls
2) NBC Nightly News jumped to highlight another liberal
lobbying effort to expand government control of health care, disguised as
a study, by Families USA. But at least Lisa Myers accurately described the
organization as a "liberal group," though she later reverted to
the usual media tag of "consumer group."
3) Jane Clayson of CBS's The Early Show was more
concerned about the prospects for passage of the House version on McCain-Feingold
than in its merits. She asked John McCain and Marty Meehan if they were
worried about blockage by Tom DeLay. Her questions: "How optimistic
are you that it will pass?" and "If it doesn't go your way how
disappointed will you be?"
4) Diane Sawyer revealed that "after pepperoni pizza
and banana milkshakes once, I dreamed about Bill Clinton." Tuesday
morning GMA's Charles Gibson mocked Sawyer for highlighting a
"study" about how Republicans have more nightmares than
Democrats, but Peter Jennings treated it as a serious news item.
5) Diane Sawyer's version of the Declaration of
Independence: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men
are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.'" What did she skip?
6) The July 9 Newsweek shouted its bias from its cover:
"The Stem Cell Wars: Embryo Research vs. Pro-Life Politics: There's
Hope for Alzheimer's, Heart Disease, Parkinson's and Diabetes. But Will
Bush Cut Off the Money?"
7) Gary Condit: ABC and CBS sit out the story in the
evening; if you can read between the lines you can figure out from NBC's
Andrea Mitchell that Condit is a Democrat; when his party is identified
it's with a "conservative' modifier; and ABC stated that Condit
is "a personal service Congressman."
Video of new CNN chief Walter Isaacson now online. During a 1997
appearance on Fox News Sunday Isaacson, then the Managing Editor of Time,
insisted: "I don't think that there's a bias in the media now the
way there used to be." He maintained: "I think that our newsroom
at Time and the people who write there are open minded and are not
Democrats and liberals as the popular perception is." To view the
RealPlayer video clip as posted by the MRC's Andy Szul, or to just see a
picture of Isaacson, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010710.asp#1
latest controversy to ensnare Bush's faith-based initiative idea raised
an area of conflict which demonstrates why many conservatives oppose the
plan -- because it would allow the government to dictate the internal
policies of religious groups -- but in their reporting Monday night the
networks saw the issue through a liberal prism, more concerned about
furthering discrimination against gays than in freeing religious groups
from government dictates. At issue: a Washington Post story on an idea
floated to exempt the Salvation Army and other religious groups from
having to follow state and federal laws which would force them to hire
"Today the White House backed off a plan
it was considering which would make it easier for charities to
discriminate against gays and lesbians," Peter Jennings announced in
setting up a story he could have approached from the right by saying
something like "Today the White House backed off a plan it was
considering which would have protected religious groups from government
interference with adherence to their religious beliefs."
CBS's Dan Rather declared: "The
President's latest bid to win support for funneling more federal tax
dollars to what he calls 'faith-based charities' may have backfired
over a dispute over laws already on the books concerning discrimination
against gays." When last did Rather ever complain about
"funneling more federal tax dollars" to a welfare program?
"Tonight that image of care and compassion," CBS's Jim Axelrod
warned about the Salvation Army, "is taking a back seat to back room
politics" as the White House moved "to circumvent state and
local anti-discrimination laws in hiring gays."
More details about coverage on Tuesday night,
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings
approached from the left in introducing a piece from Terry Moran:
"The Bush administration appears to have been caught again in the
thorny political issue of gay rights. Today the White House backed off a
plan it was considering which would make it easier for charities to
discriminate against gays and lesbians. This is one way the Bush
administration thought it could win support from religious groups for its
controversial faith-based initiative."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the
broadcast: "Two major policy decisions facing President Bush are
reaching critical mass. Both involve the combustible mix of politics and
religion. The President's latest bid to win support for funneling more
federal tax dollars to what he calls 'faith-based charities' may have
backfired over a dispute over laws already on the books concerning
discrimination against gays."
First, CBS went to John Roberts, who promised:
"A confidential report obtained by CBS News is the latest evidence of
the promise of embryonic stem cells. Drafted for President Bush by top
scientists at the National Institutes of Health...."
Second, Rather returned to the Salvation Army
story: "As for President Bush's widely-publicized faith-based
initiatives plan, the Salvation Army became ground zero today in a dispute
over what Mr. Bush is willing to give religious charities to get their
backing for it."
Jim Axelrod began: "Providing help to 39
million people a year, the Salvation Army likes to call itself America's
most popular charity. But tonight that image of care and compassion is
taking a back seat to back room politics. According to the Washington
Post, this Salvation Army document details a 'firm commitment' from
the White House to circumvent state and local anti-discrimination laws in
-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams
introduced a full report from David Gregory: "There's late
political news tonight. The Bush administration has just this evening
reversed itself on what began as a report in the Washington Post and as
the day went on was becoming increasingly controversial. At issue: the
separation of church and state. It involved a possible plan to exempt
religious charities from having to hire gay Americans."
The night before, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd
noticed, Williams had plugged the Post story on his The News with Brian
Williams on MSNBC: "The Washington Post has their hands on what will
be a big story tomorrow. They're reporting the Bush administration is
working with the Salvation Army to make it easier for government-funded
religious charities to discriminate against gay people in their hiring
practices. The Post is citing an internal Salvation Army document it
obtained. It says the White House would issue a regulation protecting the
charities from state and city efforts to prevent hiring discrimination
against gays. It also suggests the President is willing to use federal
regulations to achieve goals that are too controversial to survive the
legislative process in Washington."
And "too controversial to survive"
Nightly News on Tuesday night jumped to highlight another liberal lobbying
effort to expand government control of health care, disguised as a
"study," from Families USA. But at least Lisa Myers accurately
described the organization as a "liberal group," though she
later reverted to the usual media tag of "consumer group."
As noted in the June 21 CyberAlert, the night
before World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas led the show by claiming
health insurance executives receive exorbitant compensation while
"patients in many of those health plans are being denied
coverage." ABC News reporter Linda Douglass soon benignly identified
the source of the numbers: "The report was compiled by a consumer
group, Families USA, a critic of HMO cost cutting."
Back to Tuesday night, July 10, Lisa Myers
opened her NBC Nightly News piece: "Today's report by the liberal
group Families USA, based on records the companies filed with the
government, finds that last year eight of nine top drug companies spent
nearly twice as much on marketing, advertising and administration, as on
research and development of new drugs. Also for six of those companies,
last year's profits exceeded spending on drug research."
Near the end of the piece, which did allow a
pharmaceutical industry spokesman to deny the claims, Myers added:
"Today's report by the consumer group was part of a campaign to
enact some sort of drug price controls."
Clayson of CBS's The Early Show was more concerned Monday morning about
the prospects for passage of the House version on McCain-Feingold than in
the merits of the regulatory scheme. Other than one question to Senator
John McCain about accusations that he is "bullying" House
members into backing his bill, Clayson spent the entire interview with
McCain and Democratic Congressman Marty Meehan offering prompts for them
to describe their bills and questions such as: "How optimistic are
you that it will pass?" and "If it doesn't go your way how
disappointed will you be?"
Clayson set up the July 9 segment, as taken
down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
"This week the House takes up the issue of
campaign finance reform. Congressman Martin Meehan is the co-sponsor of a
House bill that closely mirrors the Senate version which passed in April
which was written by Senator John McCain. Both men are in Boston this
morning. Congressman Meehan and Senator McCain, good morning. Senator
McCain, let me start with you. House Majority Whip Tom Delay says he will
stop this campaign finance reform bill at any cost, do you worry that he
-- "Well, the word is that he's even
threatening House Republicans with their committee assignments for voting
against his version of campaign finance reform. That must be of some
concern to you."
-- "Members of your own party, Senator,
specifically House Speaker Dennis Hastert, accuse you of bullying House
members to get them to go along with your campaign finance reform as sort
of a quid-pro-quo you might say for campaigning for them during last
year's election. Have you been bullying people, Senator?"
-- "Congressman Meehan, let me turn to
you. Word on the Hill is that your bill is in serious trouble, how
optimistic are you that it will pass?"
-- "Essentially, as you mentioned, your bill
would ban soft money which is described as unlimited, unregulated,
unreported contributions, correct?"
-- "By my accounts, $500 million out of
$3 billion in the last campaign was soft money. How will the average
American notice a difference in the process if your bill passes?"
-- Back to McCain: "I've just got 30
seconds left, Senator, I was going to ask you, you've worked so hard on
campaign finance reform, if it doesn't go your way how disappointed will
-- "In a line, what are your chances,
morning Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson mocked his colleague
Diane Sawyer for highlighting a "study" about how Republicans
have more nightmares than Democrats, but Tuesday night World News Tonight
anchor Peter Jennings treated it as a serious item worthy of air time.
Sawyer also revealed that "after pepperoni pizza and banana
milkshakes once, I dreamed about Bill Clinton."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that near
the end of the July 10 GMA Diane Sawyer intoned: "So, there's a study
out which shows that even though ideology by day separates Democrats and
Republicans a lot, it separates it even more by night. The new study shows
that members of the GOP have nearly three times more nightmares than any
Democrats do. So, unless they're all named Bill Clinton, what can it
Charles Gibson: "No. The Republicans have
three times more nightmares than the Democrats?"
Sawyer: "Their theory, of course, is that
Republicans, by virtue of being more conservative, are more concerned
about threats to the status quo, so they're dreaming at night about
anything that can impede or injure or change the status quo. I don't know
-- ask Dr. Freud! What do I know?"
Gibson: "Do you put great validity in this
study, Ms. Sawyer?"
Sawyer: "Well no, but I do know-"
Gibson: "Then why do you report it to the
Sawyer: "After pepperoni pizza and banana
milkshakes once, I dreamed about Bill Clinton, but no, I don't know what
it means, or whether we take it seriously or not, but it does seem sort of
intuitive, I believe."
Gibson: "I want to announce that there is a
new study that has just been done by a team of scientists that proves
whatever you want it to prove. We'll be back. Stay with us."
Gibson's mocking of the story didn't
dissuade Peter Jennings. A few hours later on World News Tonight he
relayed: "There's one other item in the medical file we couldn't
resist. A study being presented at the University of California-Santa Cruz
finds that Republicans are nearly three times more likely than Democrats
to have nightmares. Researchers speculate that Republicans are very
attuned to dangers in the world."
Maybe conservatives get scared by network news
stars who dream about Bill Clinton after eating pepperoni pizza with a
Sawyer skipped over "endowed by their creator." During ABC's
hour-long "Independence Day 2001" special from Philadelphia's
July 4 celebration, Sawyer read the preamble to the Declaration of
Independence. Well, most of it.
She announced: "You know, it's hard to
imagine now that it was such a shocking idea at the time, these words:
'We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created
equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness.'"
I was in New Hampshire last week where neither
the Boston or Manchester ABC affiliates carried live the 10pm EDT
broadcast hosted by Sawyer and Charles Gibson (they showed the concert
from Boston's Esplanade which featured Peter Jennings reading historic
passages), but Northern Virginia free-lance writer Steve Allen alerted me
to the incident.
Here's the preamble in full: "We hold
these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson reminded me
it's not the first time Sawyer has offered an unusual take on God. Back
on the September 9, 1999 Good Morning America, after Bill Gaither and his
choir in Tennessee sang "Good morning, America," this exchange
Charles Gibson: "That is one of the fine
gospel groups in this country, and they have a new album called, 'God is
Diane Sawyer: "Yes, she is. I can confirm
Gibson, laughing: "Smattering of applause
around the studio."
[WEB UPDATE: The "Page
Six" column in the July 7 New York Post reported Sawyer's foul-up and
ABC's denial that it was intentional: "Was it a flub, or was the
script written without the Lord to make for better cadence? An ABC
spokeswoman said in a prepared statement: 'This is a non-story. At certain
points, Diane Sawyer read excerpts from the historic document. By no means
did we edit the Declaration of Independence.' Celebs including Michael
Douglas, Renee Zellweger, Winona Ryder and Whoopi Goldberg went on to read
the full text of the declaration -- and Kathy Bates clearly mentioned the
'creator' when her turn came."]
up with another item from last week, the July 9 Newsweek shouted its bias
from its cover which declared: "The Stem Cell Wars: Embryo Research
vs. Pro-Life Politics: There's Hope for Alzheimer's, Heart Disease,
Parkinson's and Diabetes. But Will Bush Cut Off the Money?" As
National Review's Washington Bulletin e-mail asked, "why didn't the
magazine just go all the way? 'Science vs. Pro-Life Fanatics: Will Bush
Condemn Millions of People to Lingering, Painful Deaths?'"
Since National Review did such a good job
summarizing the bias in the cover story pieces, below is an excerpt of
NR's Washington Bulletin from July 3 by John J. Miller and Ramesh
The cover of the latest issue of Newsweek is pretty remarkable....
What's remarkable is that the cover more or less announces the bias of the
From top to bottom, the cover text reads: "The Stem Cell Wars:
Embryo Research vs. Pro-Life Politics: There's Hope for Alzheimer's, Heart
Disease, Parkinson's and Diabetes. But Will Bush Cut Off the Money?"
Why didn't the magazine just go all the way? "Science vs. Pro-Life
Fanatics: Will Bush Condemn Millions of People to Lingering, Painful
The image on the cover is of a three-day-old human embryo. Most people
will look at that image and think, "That doesn't look like a human
being at all." (This reaction, while understandable, is irrational:
In fact, the embryo looks exactly the way a human being looks three days
after conception.) It's perfectly fair and reasonable for Newsweek to use
the image. We would note only that it is unimaginable that Newsweek would
use an image that loaded in the opposite direction. A story on abortion
would be much more likely to be illustrated with a coat-hanger than a
sonogram of a five-month-old fetus. (Let alone a dismembered fetus.) The
stories inside the magazine are exactly what you'd expect, given the cover
and Newsweek's general proclivities. The lead story, by Sharon Begley, is
the longest. It summarizes the science well and, as far as we can tell,
fairly. Proponents of stem-cell research get to make their case at length.
Opponents are quoted too: They get exactly two words (eleven letters) in.
And that quote is immediately rebutted, unlike any of the pro-research
quotes. Here's how the piece concludes: Not funding stem-cell research
would amount to "squelching what is, more than anything, a quest for
knowledge. We simply don't know how embryonic cells might help people who
are suffering and dying today. By banning the research, we uphold the most
extreme view of the sanctity of life, but at a price: foreclosing the
possibility of doing all we can to improve the lot of the living."
Set aside that bit about extremism. Any research, including research on
humans that most people would find objectionable, can legitimately be
described as "a quest for knowledge." And the reference to
"the living" skates right by the actual subject of the
dispute-whether the embryos are in fact living human beings. (They're not
dead, and they're not inanimate.)
Next come three pages on the politics of the research from Evan Thomas
and-uh oh-Eleanor Clift. Subhead: "The president is trapped between
religion and science over stem cells." Here's a flavor of what the
article is like: "Pure politics helps explain why the White House has
long been expected to ban federal funding for research on stem cells
extracted from human embryos....And yet Bush is clearly discovering that
the politics and ethics of stem-cell research are more complicated than a
simple 'no' from the federal government. By a 3-1 margin, the public wants
to go forward with research that has the potential to provide magical [!!]
cures for a host of neurological and other diseases." The article
concludes with some helpful suggestions on how President Bush can betray
stem-cell opponents without suffering too much political damage.
Finally, a note of fairness: The magazine's religion correspondent,
Kenneth Woodward, has a short piece on the ethics of stem-cell research
that doesn't have a conclusion to pound us over the head with....
For the latest Washington Bulletins, go to: http://www.nationalreview.com
Condit notes: ABC and CBS sit out the story in the evening; if you can
read between the lines you can figure out from NBC's Andrea Mitchell
that Condit is a Democrat; when his party is identified it's with a
"conservative' modifier; and ABC stated that Condit is "a
personal service Congressman."
-- Despite the assumption that all the
networks, morning and evening, are pursuing the Condit story, two shows
are avoiding it. While it led the NBC Nightly News on both Monday and
Tuesday night, after airing stories over the weekend, ABC's World News
Tonight and the CBS Evening News have given it a total of 11 seconds on
Monday and Tuesday night. Specifically, neither uttered a syllable Monday
night, July 9, and on Tuesday night, July 10, CBS ignored it again while
ABC's Peter Jennings took 11 seconds to note how the District of
Columbia Metropolitan Police have taken up Condit on his willingness to
have his apartment searched.
-- On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News Andrea
Mitchell only implied that Condit is a Democrat: "When Congress
returned from vacation today Condit is a no show at a briefing by
conservative Democrats." And: "No matter what Condit decides
about his political future, as of today he has a Republican
-- When labeled, add the
"conservative" modifier. Last week, on the July 5 Today, NBC
News reporter George Lewis checked in from Condit's district:
"Still Condit, a popular conservative Democrat, had plenty of support
in spite of his absence."
Condit has a lifetime 52 percent rating from
the Americans with Democratic Action and a 48 percent lifetime rating from
the American Conservative Union, so he's hardly a flaming liberal, but
he's significantly more liberal than several House Democrats from the
South and West. "Moderate Democrat" would be a more accurate
-- An implication a reporter probably didn't
intend in the wake of the confirmation that Condit had an intimate
relationship with missing constituent Chandra Levy. The MRC's newest
analyst, Patrick Gregory, caught this line from ABC reporter Brian Rooney
on the July 9 Good Morning America. Between soundbites of Condit
constituents praising his work for their district, Rooney managed to link
Condit to the GOP: "Condit is a Democrat who often votes with the
Republican opposition but also is popular as a personal service
"A personal service Congressman."
Fill in your own quip. -- Brent Baker
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