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 June 29, 1999 (Vol. One; No. 5)

Bush Must Borrow from Liberals; The Capitalist Casino: Richardson Threatens Revenge

1. All three news magazines covered the candidacy of George W. Bush for President and each suggested that Bush adopt a more liberal stance on the issues as a way of increasing his chances for election. Time touted McCain-style campaign "reform," and Newsweek urged: "To make 'compassionate conservatism' real, Bush should borrow some ideas from a liberal."

2. Newsweek’s cover story on the rich sold the liberal theory that capitalism is one big casino: "More than ever, achieving the American Dream is a game of chance -- and picking the right stock."

3. Chinagate is still going ignored. Newsweek carried nothing. Time’s Web site worried that bombing the Chinese embassy could affect the important domestic panda situation. But U.S. News hinted in a blurb that Energy Secretary Bill Richardson is threatening revenge on Republican congressman if they follow through on their reform proposals.

4. Say what you will about Ted Turner’s liberal views, but Newsweek noted Ted Turner’s acquisitive ways with private property make him unpopular in Montana.

A less political week on the covers in the July 5 issues. Time features Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who star in Stanley Kubrick’s last movie, Eyes Wide Shut. U.S. News & World Report focuses on a "Class of Heroes," West Point’s Class of 1939. Newsweek’s cover trumpets: "The Whine of ‘99: Everyone’s Getting Rich But Me!"


All three news magazines covered the candidacy of George W. Bush for President and each suggested that Bush adopt a more liberal stance on the issues as a way of increasing his chances for election.

Jonathan Alter, writing in Newsweek, suggested that Bush heed the advice of a former Gary Hart aide in implementing his "compassionate conservatism." The subheadline read, "To make 'compassionate conservatism' real, Bush should borrow some ideas from a liberal." Alter wrote Bush’s theme had universal appeal: "Even troglodytes like to think they have good hearts; even those who are proud to be politically incorrect respond to candidates who bolster their self-esteem." Alter wanted details: "Bush may be forced into arguing that being a "compassionate" president means doing less for the poor from Washington and letting the states fill the breach. That could be a winning philosophy in GOP primaries, but it's a weak approach to the general-election campaign that seems to have already begun. Should compassionate conservatives ("com cons" to cognoscenti) turn out to be spreading just a kinder and gentler gloss on the same old Republican agenda, Bush's bumper sticker will peel off."

Alter proposed: "For inspiration on that bothersome ‘vision thing,’ the Bush team might consider the work of an unlikely source -- a one-time aide to Gary Hart and Bob Kerrey who has put political action behind him in favor of direct, nonpartisan community service," Bill Shore of the nonprofit group Share Our Strength. "If Bush is serious about his slogan, he would expand the "empowerment zones" idea (originated by the GOP) beyond tax breaks and use government as a catalyst for heavy-duty, multi-pronged public-private investment in desperately poor areas."

Gloria Borger, writing in U.S. News & World Report, echoed the same theme in praising Bush’s willingness to break from the "out of touch" GOP Congress. In her article she states, "It’s really quite Clintonesque: One of the reasons the president survived impeachment so handily, was his ability to connect with the voters when he pleaded for the nation to 'get this behind us.' (‘This’, of course, was his own fault; but never mind.) So, too, with Bush. He’ll be full of talk about ‘fresh starts’ and ‘clean slates.’ That’s a handy twofer: Campaign sources say that means moving on from the sour image the party created post-1994, as well as moving on from the Al Gore/Bill Clinton regime. ‘It’s implicit, not explicit, criticism,’ says one Bush ally. ‘If you read Bush carefully, it’s a subliminal repudiation of Congress.’ In other words, use the party’s organizational strength while distancing yourself from its recent history. Not a bad plan."

But Borger saw eventual problems: "But what happens when real issues get in the way? When the President proposes a new plan to pay for prescription drugs, as he will next week? Or when Democrats continue to push for a popular proposal allowing patients to sue their HMOs? If recent history is any guide, no one should underestimate the GOP’s ability to misread the public. ‘If we were any more out of touch,’ complains one GOP strategist, ‘we’d be on Jupiter.’ Of course, there’s still time to get there; the legislative session isn’t over until the fall. So what does Bush do if he disagrees with the GOP leadership? He says so. Wholeheartedly and with feeling." Borger concluded with talk that the House GOP will ultimately be betrayed by their endorsee: "‘The bottom line is, these guys are really committing suicide,’ says one Bush friend in a moment of candor. ‘He'll smile with them, but when he's elected, the gig is up.’"

In an article on the remaining months of Clinton’s presidency, Kenneth Walsh noted Clinton is no fan of W: "Making matters more difficult at home, Clinton has not forgiven conservatives for what he considers a vendetta against him. He sees Texas Gov. George W. Bush as part of the GOP establishment's effort to destroy his legacy. A senior Clinton adviser calls Bush 'a thug' who enjoys threatening his adversaries and a 'weak governor' who has thrived by stealing 'New Democrat' ideas on education and other issues. George W., like his father, whom Clinton defeated in 1992, has little idea what he wants to do as president, Clinton says."

How about Time? In article on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, reporter James Carney cited McCain’s support for campaign finance reform as a winning issue and suggested Bush consider it for his own campaign. Carney stated: "Bush, for his part, bemoans the culture of partisanship and gridlock in Washington but is mostly silent about the system that funds it. He proposes lifting the $1,000 limit on individual contributions and requiring full disclosure of contributors. But, says McCain, ‘that's basically the system we have today. The restrictions we have now are a facade.’ The Senator's current plan, in his McCain-Feingold bill, would ban the unlimited contributions known as ‘soft money’ that corporations, lobbyists and unions can give to national parties, and it would restrict outside, allegedly ‘independent’ groups from running ads to help specific candidates."

The allegedly "independent" news media hates "independent" groups that run ads opposing their favorite programs and candidates.


Newsweek’s cover story on the rich sold the liberal theory that capitalism is one big casino. The subheadline read: "The economy's booming. So why do so many of us feel we're missing out on the party? More than ever, achieving the American Dream is a game of chance -- and picking the right stock."

Writer Adam Bryant complained that "all this new wealth is creating a sense of unease and bewilderment among those of us who don't know how to get in touch with our inner moguls. The old road to success -- perspiration and perseverance -- doesn't seem as clear anymore. In this Age of Outlandish Expectations, even Horatio Alger might be tempted to trade stocks online."

Bryant obliquely touched on his magazine’s coverage of the Decade of Greed: "In another, earlier era -- the go-go 1980s -- many Americans tended to make villains of such arrivistes. But the suddenly wealthy are no longer bogeymen like Gordon Gekko, the slippery protagonist of Oliver Stone's Wall Street. The rich, at long last, are very much like you or me: they're an idealized version of ourselves. If we once respected the Alger work ethic, many of us now admire the savvy of the instant rich, and are panting at the possibility of becoming one of them. ‘It's the first time in the postwar era that so many people seem to be getting so rich with so little relative effort on their part,’ said Robert B. Reich, the former Labor secretary who's now a professor at Brandeis University. ‘At least on the surface, it appears that the old work ethic has turned upside down.’"

Bryant kept banging away at his casino theme: "No phenomenon has spread the wealth more -- or made it feel more random -- than stock options." And: "The dementia of the stock market has turned former daydreams into distinct possibilities." He quoted author Jonathan Hoenig (his book is titled Greed is Good) chirping: " The notion of being able to make money without actually doing much of anything jazzed me to no end.'' He concluded that "the have-nots can take some comfort in history," and the new rich may crash: "Lacking a moralist of greed for the '90s, let us dip back into the '80s. To quote the long-forgotten words of Daryl Hannah's character in the movie Wall Street: ‘You may find out one day that when you've had money and lost it, it's much worse than never having had it at all.’"

You know reporters have a real grounding in economics when their central quotes come from old movies.


On Friday, President Clinton held a press conference where, in responding to a reporter’s question, he admitted that he misspoke when denying knowledge of espionage during his term. News magazine coverage of Chinagate? Zero in Newsweek. Time ignored the story, but the Time Daily web site featured a story headlined: "Why Washington Needs to 'Panda' to Beijing: If Chinese remain angry over embassy bombing, National Zoo might not get a replacement for its star attraction." Forget about the security of our nuclear arsenal, let’s watch out for those pandas!

U.S. News, since it closes on Friday night, may be excused for not including these new developments. However, in its "Washington Whispers" section, it did report an interesting development in the Chinese espionage investigation by Congress not reported elsewhere. Specifically, it involves Energy Secretary Bill Richardson threatening revenge on Republican congressmen if they follow through on their reform proposals. Reporter Paul Bedard revealed: "Outraged at U.S. nuclear labs’ lax security, Congress is moving swiftly to change how the Energy Department handles nukes. But not without Energy Secretary Bill Richardson throwing himself on the tracks. Richardson, several congressional sources say, has threatened Republican Reps. Floyd Spence of South Carolina and Mac Thornberry of Texas with retaliation if they pursued their reform proposals. Revenge was among the words the energy chief used, says a witness to one conversation. The threats aren’t idle. Spence’s congressional district is home to the Savannah River nuclear site. Thornberry’s is home to the Pantex plant, where nuclear weapons are disassembled. And both facilities are in the running for new DOE contracts. Richardson denies making threats. But he is taking things personally. ‘I need your help to get through this, not your second guessing,’ says a handwritten note to Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, a fellow New Mexican."


Finally, one for the Ted Turner-is-at-it-again department. Newsweek, in its Periscope section, described a controversy regarding Turner’s purchase of ranching land in Nebraska creating conflict with local ranchers."Ted Turner may be running out of room in the west. The CNN founder and bison rancher already owns 1.5 million acres in four states, and recently added 34,186 acres to his holdings in Nebraska's Sandhills area. Local ranchers are complaining, saying he robs families of the chance to branch out, and that by overpaying -- at $200 an acre, he far outpaced recent prices -- he drives up property taxes. ‘The best thing that could happen,’ says state Sen. Jim Jones, ‘is if people stopped selling to him.’"

Say what you will about Ted’s positions on population control, the environment and the Cold War. One thing he is all for is private property.

-- 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