Media Reality Check
  Notable Quotables
  Press Releases
  Media Bias Videos
  30-Day Archive
MRC Resources
  Site Search
  Media Addresses
  Contact MRC
  Support the MRC
  Planned Giving
  Comic Commentary
  MRC Bookstore
  Job Openings
  News Division
  Free Market Project
Support the MRC






 Magazine Watch

Tuesday February 29, 2000 (Vol. 2; No. 9)

Al Sharpton, Moral Leader?; Human and Heroic McCain; "Reform" Is Dead

1. In the wake of the Diallo police-shooting trial, black radical Time writer Jack E. White nominated race-baiting Al Sharpton as a "moral leader" – if he could only admit that he’s lied and railroaded an innocent man for years.

2. Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff blew John McCain another wet kiss, concluding he’s "different enough from the average pol to seem at once human and heroic." But Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Time’s Nancy Gibbs noted McCain’s lying about his knowledge of his campaign’s "Catholic Voter Alert" calls in Michigan.

3. U.S. News & World Report writer Roger Simon upbraided the Bush "geniuses" that "sent him to Bob Jones University in South Carolina, which is like wrapping him in the Confederate flag and setting him on fire." U.S. News columnist Michael Barone predicted a future for President McCain: "Look for campaign finance reform to go the way of Jimmy Carter's energy bill or the Clinton health care plan."

4. In "Washington Whispers," U.S. News scribe Paul Bedard belittled J.C. Watts for lamenting the liberal media for the Leadership Institute.

On the covers of this week’s news magazines, dated March 6: Newsweek featured the debut of Sony’s new video game unit Playstation 2. U.S. News explored the controversy surrounding psychiatric prescription drugs for children. Time featured the controversial police shooting case of unarmed Amadou Diallo in New York.


All three magazines featured articles covering the jury verdict acquitting the New York City police officers in the Diallo shooting. But black radical Time writer Jack E. White focused on one of the central figures in the case, the Rev. Al Sharpton. White does mention one of the darkest chapters in Sharpton’s career, the Tawana Brawley hoax where he defamed the good name of an innocent man, but in spite of this he maintained that Sharpton has the capacity to be a "moral leader."

White complained that "Sharpton's flamboyant image and checkered past have made him an easy target for right-wingers to use against their political enemies," as when George Will pestered Bill Bradley with Sharpton’s "colossal fraud" in the Brawley case, and "Bradley ducked the question."

White explained: "That's one reason I wish Sharpton, 45, had the courage to apologize to Steven Pagones, the white former prosecutor he falsely accused of kidnapping and raping Brawley. Admitting that he did Pagones an injustice – and paying the $65,000 defamation judgment Pagones won against Sharpton last year – is the right thing to do morally. And it would make it harder for Sharpton's critics to deflect his message by harping on lingering doubts about his character. When I made these points to Sharpton, he replied, ‘You may be right.’ But he insisted that he won't even consider apologizing unless he loses an appeal of the slander verdict. It's a big mistake, maybe even a sin, to wait that long because at his best Sharpton has the makings of a moral leader."

The irony in this story is that for White, all Sharpton has to do is apologize to Pagones to recover his moral stature, but he’s refused to back down on his lying for years. That’s leadership material?


Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff blew John McCain another wet kiss with a sympathetic puff piece about the "inner workings" of his campaign, including McCain’s solicitation of Colin Powell: "McCain wanted to know: was Powell thinking of running? Left unstated was the reality that there wasn't room for two American heroes in the presidential race."

Thomas and Isikoff concluded: "He had been upset during a town meeting that morning when a mother described how her 14-year-old son – a Boy Scout – broke into tears after hearing an anti-McCain telephone canvasser describe the candidate as a ‘liar’ and a ‘cheat.’ McCain's verdict: no more negative ads.’"I don't want to wake up after a victory and feel dirty,’ he told his strategists. Davis was disappointed. If only he had shown McCain the ads, he believed, the senator would have gone for them. ‘McCain would have probably said, 'Yeah, let's rip the guy's face off',’ said Davis. ‘You know, he's like the rest of us.’ But different enough from the average pol to seem at once human and heroic."

(Yes, this is the same Evan Thomas who reported last week on how "Senator Hothead" called his colleagues "a–holes" and "f—ing jerks.")

Slowly but surely, the press is beginning to report on the McCain campaign’s negative tactics despite being the self-advertised high road campaign. In his Newsweek article, Howard Fineman declared "Catholics nationwide were infuriated by Bush's decision to launch his Southern campaign at Bob Jones University, a center of anti-Vatican fundamentalism. In Michigan McCain moved to exploit that anger. His staffers created a phony front group called ‘Catholic Voter Alert,’ and used it to make thousands of calls to Catholic households accusing Bush of ‘staying silent’ about the ‘anti-Catholic bigotry.’ It worked."

How Fineman measured "infuriated...Catholics nationwide" is anybody’s guess. He didn’t cite a poll.

Time’s Nancy Gibbs reported the deceptive phone call strategy against Bush in Michigan and how even McCain is not above twisting the truth to serve his own political purposes. " McCain initially said he had nothing to do with the calls to Catholic voters. As Bush furiously noted after his Michigan loss, the McCain team admitted to the calls only after the polls had closed and the day's stories had been written. McCain doesn't appear to mind twisting the truth if it serves a larger purpose. In a battle he sometimes views as good vs. evil, he can get himself to a place where he thinks the end justifies the means – and he has come to think that Bush is a bad guy."


In keeping with the media spirit of bouncing McCain and demoralizing Bush supporters, U.S. News & World Report political writer Roger Simon listed all the ways Bush’s supposed "geniuses keep screwing up," like when "they sent him to Bob Jones University in South Carolina, which is like wrapping him in the Confederate flag and setting him on fire." Simon avoided any focus on McCain’s campaign tactics, saving the scrutiny for Bush: "What's his message now? Compassionate conservatism got ashcanned after New Hampshire. Reformer with results didn't do anything for him in Michigan. So now what's his new motto, his new riff, his new way of distracting the press corps from slobbering all over McCain? Alas, there is none. ‘You're stuck with me the way it is,’ Bush says."

U.S. News columnist Michael Barone argued that voters aren’t looking ahead to how President McCain may govern: "Like Carter and Perot, McCain has stirred enthusiasm among voters impatient with Washington gridlock. But they haven't thought much about whether he, like Carter and Perot, would have trouble delivering on his promises...the rising power of unions assures permanent deadlock on campaign finance. Under current law, unions are the only organizations that can take your money out of your paycheck without your permission and use it for their politics. Almost every Democrat will oppose any bill that deprives union leaders of this advantage. Almost every Republican will oppose any bill that keeps it as is. President McCain can take all the names he wants, but he can't force either side to back down on such a central issue. Look for campaign finance reform to go the way of Jimmy Carter's energy bill or the Clinton health care plan."


In its "Washington Whispers" section, U.S. News related how Republican Congressman J.C. Watts intends to fight liberal bias in the media. However, chief whisperer Paul Bedard began by discounting bias complaints as Republican whining. "Here's an old Washington trick: When a political message fails to land, don't change. Blame the messenger. House Republicans are taking that to a new level. Rep. J. C. Watts, the House GOP communicator, wants to train a conservative reporting corps because those dang liberals still run the show. His enemies: Walter Cronkite, Time, Bryant Gumbel. ‘Liberal media bias is out of control,’ he says in a fundraising letter for the Leadership Institute, which he says trains conservative scribes. There's an easier and cheaper way:, a new Web site for right minds."

I’m sure the fact that 89 percent of the media voted for Clinton in 1992 has nothing to do with the Republican message being suppressed.

-- Paul Smith





Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314