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 December 7, 1999 (Vol. 1; No. 28)

"Virulent Antigay" Army; No Time for Tax Cuts; Time’s "Easy" McCain

1. Time, still ignoring two gay men accused of raping and murdering 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising, featured this summer’s beating death of gay Army man Barry Winchell as proof that "don’t ask, don’t tell" is not "a functioning policy" amid the "virulent antigay bigotry" of the military.

2. Newsweek’s "Battle in Seattle" cover package offered opposing takes on the WTO riots. Reporter Kenneth Klee suggested Seattle "can afford" the vandalism of protesters, while Fareed Zakaria claimed the protesters were hypocrites.

3. Jonathan Alter used his Newsweek column to channel the ghost of John Maynard Keynes, lamenting the Bush tax-cut proposal should be shelved until "we need it -- to fight a real recession down the road."

4. U.S. News & World Report suddenly discovered the seamy ethics of Gore campaign chairman Tony Coelho.

5. Newsweek was the only mag to feature Gore’s "I exposed Love Canal" gaffe.

6. Time explained why reporters love McCain. Steve Lopez claimed "McCain is easier to get access to than a Hong Kong hooker."

On the covers of this week's news magazines: Newsweek stuck to hard news with the "Battle of Seattle." U.S. News & World Report featured "Wireless Wonders" and a report on the post-PC world. Time awarded John McCain its cover with the title "The Real McCain."


Time, still ignoring two gay men accused of raping and murdering 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising, featured this summer’s beating death of gay Army man Barry Winchell. Mark Thompson bemoaned the "virulent antigay bigotry" in the armed forces and took aim at the Clinton Administration's policy regarding homosexuals in the military. "In fact, the allegations surrounding Winchell's life and death suggest that the ‘Don't ask, don't tell’ policy, far from being a neat compromise between barring gays and openly accepting them, is being carried out in a way that can create a dangerous atmosphere of intrigue in the ranks….But virulent antigay bigotry remains an accepted prejudice in much of the U.S. military. So when rumors began to float around that someone in the unit might be gay, a sergeant -- in violation of "Don't ask, don't tell"-- launched his own informal probe…..Their fate, and Winchell's, suggests that 'Don't ask, don't tell' is an unfulfilled promise, not a functioning policy."


Newsweek featured an interesting contrast in its coverage of the WTO riots. According to reporter Kenneth Klee, the damage caused to Seattle businesses by the riots were no big deal because Seattle can afford it. "National Economic Council chairman Gene Sperling reflected after last week's breakdown that ‘when you take on the largest economic challenges of the day, you're going to hit a few bumps along the way.’ Seattle could count more than a few of those bumps: $3 million in property damage, at least $10 million in lost Christmas shopping revenues. But, hey, they can afford it. Greater Seattle exported $34 billion worth of goods last year." Apparently, Klee believes there is an acceptable level of destruction from riots.

Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom Watch followed this line of thinking by giving the "Anarchists" responsible for much of the mayhem in Seattle an up arrow. "Where the hell did they come from? Upside: They don't drink lattes."

However, Fareed Zakaria's article on the riots and protests in Seattle offered a different take, pointing out how the protesters lack mainstream support and act against the principles of democracy. "The demonstrators claimed to be acting in the name of democracy. A protester, Brooke Lehman, called the WTO ‘an undemocratic, illegitimate power.’ Almost all of the 500-odd groups in Seattle similarly criticized the WTO's ‘lack of accountability.’ But, of course, not one of these organizations is in any way accountable to anyone. Most of them represent small and narrow interests that have been unable to build mainstream support for their demands. Most of the key governments that belong to the WTO, on the other hand, are elected by broad majorities. The truth is that labor unions, environmentalists and other activists are trying to impose regulations through the WTO that they were unable to persuade the United States Congress to support."


Jonathan Alter focused his Newsweek column on the Republican race where he lamented the Republican Party becoming anti-communist during the 1930s and criticized the George W.'s tax cut plan using the tired Democratic line of tax cut for the wealthy. "Starting in the 1930s the GOP became, consecutively, isolationist, anti-communist and anti-statist, more interested in limiting government than reforming it on behalf of the people." On Bush's tax cut plan, Alter channeled the ghost of John Maynard Keynes, that tax cuts are only useful as recession-busters: "Bush last week defended his 22 percent cut for the top bracket as 'insurance against recession.' Bogus insurance, as Bush must know. Almost any nonpolitical economist will tell you that a stimulative tax cut now might overheat the economy. It would also make it harder to find the money for a high-end tax cut when we need it-to fight a real recession down the road."


U.S. News & World Report won the award for the most unique Campaign 2000 reporting for the week. Marianne Lavelle and Kenneth Walsh profiled Gore campaign chief Tony Coelho and suddenly discovered his ethically troubled past. "Coelho Inc. That's exactly why Gore insiders fret about the chairman's past. 'I was stunned when he got the job,' says a former strategist for President Clinton who is now advising Gore. 'You'd think a premium would have been placed on choosing someone with a personal history less open to doubt.'….But the unsalaried Coelho may yet prove more of a liability than an asset. Gore aides say the candidate was in such a hurry to bring Coelho aboard that he nixed a routine background check. But Coelho has ties to some of the very interests the vice president claims to be fighting, such as deep-pocket lobbies, profligate spenders of taxpayers' money, and firms accused of ripping off consumers."

Lavelle and Walsh also make the magazine’s first mention of Gore’s Carter Eskew controversy: "Gore has taken flak for bringing on Washington consultant Carter Eskew as his media strategist, despite Eskew's lucrative work for the tobacco industry, which Gore has assailed for years. Coelho's past could prove more problematic. His most recent embarrassment arose from his service as U.S. commissioner general for the 1998 world's fair in Portugal. The State Department's inspector general discovered that Coelho had made the government liable for an unreported $300,000 personal loan. (His lawyer says Coelho is paying the money back.) The IG also found that Coelho had taxpayers pick up the tab for a lavish $18,000-a-month apartment in Lisbon and a chauffeur- driven Mercedes." Kudos to Lavelle and Walsh for their better-late-than-never profile.


Unlike the other news magazines and the broadcast news networks, Bill Turque reported on the most recent Gore gaffe where he claimed credit for exposing Love Canal. "But the old Gore -- the one with a penchant for embellishing the facts -- still shows up. Describing his investigation of toxic-waste sites as a young House member in the late '70s, he said, 'I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal.' Gore did hold the first congressional hearings on the neighborhood near Niagara Falls that was ravaged by leakage from an old underground chemical dump. But Love Canal had been declared a disaster area two months before his hearings-after grass-roots organizing by residents, not Gore's heroics. The next day, he corrected the 'misimpression.'"


Time offered a lengthy profile of presidential hopeful John McCain, detailing his life history from his time as a POW in Vietnam through his entire political career. Compared to the usual media tributes, John Dickerson and Nancy Gibbs provided a comparatively balanced look at his career and point out some inconsistencies in his political behavior. Dickerson and Gibbs began by extolling his Vietnam heroism: his "conduct enthralls a generation that aches for heroes and doubts the moral detour it took during the years John McCain was becoming the icon of Duty, Honor and Country....That he survived at all gave the country reason to consecrate him."

Dickerson and Gibbs underlined McCain’s current political courage: "Only a truly brave politician would take on the whole system that had brought his party to power in the first place. This cause isn't just Greater Than His Own Self-Interest--it goes directly against his self-interest. His party is in power, after all, so it controls the spigots." They explained another reason reporters love him: "A presidential candidate is not supposed to talk at length and on the record about the rules he broke or the strippers he dated, or the time he arrived so drunk that he fell through the screen door of the young lady he was wooing. The candor tells you more than the content, and reporters sometimes just decide to take him off the record because they don't want to see him flame out and burn up a great story."

Lastly, we have one more example of the glowing and even worshipful coverage McCain receives from the media and in this instance Time reporter Steve Lopez certainly deserves the strange analogy award for campaign reporting. Lopez writes, "McCain had killed yet again with an act that was part Johnny Carson and part Harry Truman, and the locals were hot to squeeze his hand, get an autograph or just get close. None of which requires any great effort, because McCain is easier to get access to than a Hong Kong hooker."

Things that make you go hmmmmm.

– 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