1. Suddenly, a shortage of regulations. The past few elections have "loosened" the social safety net and "pulled back from the regulation of business," Time’s Daniel Kadlec declared as he exhorted readers to lobby Congress for new 401(k) rules.
2. Time noted that Bernard Goldberg’s exposé, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News now tops the New York Times bestseller list, but critic Richard Zoglin insulted Goldberg as "foaming a bit at the mouth."
3. Two Newsweek staffers showed their affection for campaign finance "reform." Howard Fineman — with an assist from John McCain — portrayed the acceptance of legal campaign cash from Enron execs as smarmy, while Lynnete Clemetson tagged liberal Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. as a "shrewd dealmaker" for pushing his black colleagues to accept reform.
4. Kudos to Newsweek’s Steve Brill, who followed up on the much-maligned FBI plan to interview 5,000 Arab men, a plan which drew a hail of media fire when it was announced two months ago. "The interviews are now mostly over," Brill reported, and "the surprise is...the mass dragnet was handled well."
Less news from U.S. News & World Report — the first of five planned "double issues" of the once-weekly newsmag popped up on newsstands; the no-thicker-than-normal January 28-February 4 issue features a special section on the Winter Olympics. U.S. News plans to take a total of five weeks off in 2002 (in January, February, July, August and December). How European of them.
For their respective January 28 issues, Newsweek examined "The New Black Power," a feature on black executives at major corporations like AOL-Time Warner, while Time whipped up the fear factor with "You’re On Your Own, Baby," a so-called "survivor guide" on how to weather the allegedly dangerous post-Enron world. (See #1.)
Suddenly, a shortage of regulations. The past few elections have "loosened" the social safety net and "pulled back from the regulation of business," Time’s Daniel Kadlec declared as he exhorted readers to lobby Congress for new 401(k) rules.
Introducing a package of stories offering advice on retirement accounts, health care providers, and long distance carriers, Kadlec wrung his hands over the number of choices available in a free society. "Responsibility is always the price of freedom," he conceded. "But we are now responsible for so many decisions requiring so much homework that many of us feel helpless or paralyzed."
He cited the major losses suffered by Enron shareholders as a symbol of the dangers lurking in the free market, and despaired that Americans desire for smaller government has left society under-regulated: "The social safety net for the unemployed is not the only thing that the government has loosened. It has also pulled back from the regulation of business. That’s a direction we have chosen through our own elections, and in many ways it has served us well. But what we didn’t anticipate was the degree to which lightly regulated companies would be able to corrupt the professionals on whom we have relied to guide us through complex financial and medical matters and to look out for our interests."
"For several months after Sept. 11, Americans have felt ourselves pulling together," he added. "But the Enron scandal has shown us or perhaps reminded us that when money is involved, we are truly on our own."
Kadlec also authored the story on 401(k)s, and he gave readers specific instructions on how they should lobby Congress: "What can you do? Start by telling your Congressman and Senators that you support efforts to lift restrictions on when you can sell company shares that have been given to you and to place limits on how much employer stock can be stuffed into a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan."
That’s right, you should ask to be prevented by law from owning too much of your employer’s stock. Just last week, Newsweek’s Jane Bryant Quinn also lobbied for what she called "paternalism at its best." Apparently, the newsmags don’t have much confidence in the decision-making abilities of the educated investor.
Time noted that Bernard Goldberg’s exposé, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News now tops the New York Times bestseller list, but critic Richard Zoglin insulted Goldberg as "foaming a bit at the mouth."
In a brief article tucked inside Time’s Notebook section ("A Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy?"), Zoglin expresses shock that people are actually buying Bias. "Books by conservatives are hot these days," he admits, "but it still comes as a surprise to see that Bernard Goldberg’s Bias (Regnery; 232 pages) has bounced to the top of the New York Times best-seller list."
As Goldberg noted in his book (page 111), he’s no conservative — just a newsman who believes big media are losing their credibility by dissing anyone who doesn’t share their liberal slant. Zoglin refused to accept the premise of Bias: "A few examples [of bias] get stretched awfully far, and the tough-minded media critic loses out to the ideologue for long stretches (arguing that the media have underplayed the downside of having kids in day care and overplayed the ‘myth’ of heterosexual AIDS)."
But the Time writer does concede that Goldberg has made a decent case, although he insults the veteran correspondent in the process: "Goldberg, though foaming a bit at the mouth, lands a few good punches." One "good punch" Zoglin cited was Peter Jennings’s lopsided labeling of U.S. Senators at Bill Clinton’s impeachment trail, a biased performance described in detail by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker in the
January 8, 1999 CyberAlert.
And there are a lot more "good punches" where that came from.
Two Newsweek staffers showed their affection for campaign finance "reform." Howard Fineman — with an assist from John McCain — portrayed the acceptance of legal campaign cash from Enron execs as smarmy, while Lynnete Clemetson tagged liberal Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. as a "shrewd dealmaker" for pushing his black colleagues to accept reforms they didn’t want.
Clemetson profiled Ford as part of its cover story on new black leaders in America, noting his ambition for higher office — perhaps U.S. Senator or a member of the House Democrats’ leadership. But "he is already making a name as a shrewd dealmaker," she gushed. "When members of the Black Caucus threatened to derail campaign-finance legislation last year on the grounds that donation caps would hurt black candidates, Ford took them to task. ‘We can’t be on the wrong side of this when it is written about in history books,’ he argued."
For his part, Fineman played up the idea that Enron money was corrupting. "Post-Enron Washington is like post-Taliban Kabul: Everyone is shocked, shocked at what was going on in the capital until the tanks rolled in, and now everyone is frantically shaving his donor lists," he revealed. "Senators who are pledging to give away donations — usually to Enron employee victims’ funds — include Kay Bailey Hutchison, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain....‘No bones about it,’ McCain told Newsweek. ‘I’m tainted by it, too.’"
Where’s the taint? McCain didn’t grant Enron any favors — at least none that Fineman revealed. The pressure for new campaign finance rules is now so intense, it doesn’t matter to "reformers" whether elected officials acted ethically or unethically; the money itself has been demonized. Moving right along, "[McCain’s] allies in the House are two votes short of the 218 they need to force a vote," Fineman revealed, adding that McCain is using phone banks to put pressure on representatives from swing
"‘Failure to pass this now will further lower respect for the two-party system,’ said McCain, who flirts with running for president as an independent. ‘We’re piano players in the House of ill repute.’" Agreed Fineman: "The music may have stopped for Enron, but the band is still playing in town."
Kudos to Newsweek’s Steve Brill, who followed up on the much-maligned FBI plan to interview 5,000 Arab men, a plan which drew a hail of media fire when it was announced two months ago. "The interviews are now mostly over," Brill reported, and "the surprise is...the mass dragnet was handled well."
Brill led with the anecdote of one American-born man, Ali Erikenoglu, who had a less-than-ideal meeting with FBI agents he first noticed poking around with flashlights in the bushes outside his house. But that was on September 20, and Brill stated that "the FBI seems to have learned from the backlash generated by its earlier tactics" — after a bout of "sensitivity training," agents began offering to take their shoes off when entering a Muslim’s home. Not exactly storm-trooper tactics.
Brill also reported that, according to the Justice Department, "several leads" were developed in the interviews. And as for journalistic critics of the FBI’s information-gathering, Brill placed the interviews in a context that even a freshman journalist should be able to appreciate:
"Cops, like reporters, always have to question lots of people in hopes of finding someone who might know something or someone — or who might later hear about someone who knows someone. The only thing that has to be justified is the decision to target people coming from particular countries, and that kind of ‘profiling’ becomes a lot less controversial once the mind-set — and the articulated goal — has to do with getting information, not grilling suspects."
In other words, the interviews really were just interviews, not star chambers. That’s why the liberal media has moved on to new topics.
– Ken Shepherd and Rich Noyes