Assistant Managing Editor, New York Times, adds Editor, New
York Times Magazine to his duties in recent appointment. Greenfield
was chief diplomatic correspondent for Time magazine, becoming
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs under President Kennedy
before promotion to Assistant Secretary of State by President Johnson
in 1964. From 1969 to 1977 he served as foreign news editor for the
paper of record.
Patricia O'Brien, Press
Secretary to Mike Dukakis campaign
since April, resigned in Thanksgiving weekend shake-up of campaign. She
had been hired by campaign manager John Sasso who was later forced to
leave after acknowledging role in Biden tape controversy.
The November 26 Boston Herald
reported that the former Knight-Ridder national correspondent
"became friendly" with Sasso while covering the 1984 Ferraro
campaign which he managed.
Anne Edwards, who joined
National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington in March, 1987, promoted to
Senior Editor. She directed the Carter White House
television office. In 1980 she joined CBS News as a Washington bureau
assignment editor, leaving in 1984 to handle press advance work and
scheduling for the Mondale-Ferraro presidential effort.
Jeanne Edmunds, deputy
to CBS Face the Nation Executive Producer Karen Sughrue, left the show
in late November to "pursue independent projects." After
working in Democratic politics in Texas, she moved to Washington with
the Carter transition team. Soon tiring of politics,
she became a guest booker for Mutual's Larry King Show, later doing the
same for the CBS Morning News as an Associate Producer.
When named Producer of the Sunday
interview program in 1986 she replaced Mary Fifield,
Press Secretary in mid-70s for Massachusetts Governor Michael
top aide to Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill for seven
years until O'Neill's retirement a year ago, named Washington Bureau
Chief for San Francisco Examiner. He's also started writing a
column for the King Features syndicate and will contribute commentaries
on the 1988 campaign to the Mutual Broadcasting System. Before joining
O'Neill in 1982 Matthews was a speechwriter for President Carter.
President and Chief Executive Officer of NPR, unanimously re-elected by
Board of Directors to another one-year term. During his political career
Bennet worked for Vice-President Hubert Humphrey,
Democratic Senator Tom Eagleton and headed the Agency
for International Development under Carter.
WTTG-TV, channel 5 in Washington,
launched a weekly "Point-Counterpoint" debate on the 10
O'Clock News. Newsweek correspondent Eleanor Clift
serves as the liberal in the Tuesday night debates with conservative
syndicated columnist Cal Thomas.
Janet Cooke Award
Bill Moyers and
His PBS Series
Bill Moyers, now with PBS, is at it
again. And his new three part series, "God and Politics" has
earned him the January "Janet Cooke Award." In the series,
Moyers took a look at the growing fundamentalist movement. In Part One,
"The Kingdom Divided," which aired December 9, Moyers offered
both a confusing and slanted picture of the union of political and
religious action in Nicaragua. Seeming to offer a balanced look at the
fundamentalist and liberation theology movements, Moyers blatantly mis-represented
Sandinista commitment to religious freedom.
In a Good Morning America
interview, Moyers claimed: "We really can't judge the Sandinista
revolution by the Marxist revolution in Russia or any other communist
movement. This is a movement that is fueled with Christian passion and
Christian commitment." Not once in the PBS show did Moyers speak
with a member of the Catholic Church hierarchy in Nicaragua, nor did he
ever mention the grievous actions of the totalitarian government against
religious freedom: imprisonment of priests opposed to the government,
and the censorship of all Catholic radio stations and newspapers.
Pablo Antonio Vega, an exiled Roman
Catholic bishop from Nicaragua, described any Sandinista religion
campaign as "deceptive," explaining to MediaWatch:
"The communists simply want to profit from the religiosity of the
people, and submit the people to their regime." Contacted by MediaWatch,
the Producer/ Director of the program, Elena Mannes, refused to comment
on specifics, declaring: "I really don't want to comment on
particular issues and I've said before the broadcast speaks for
The second show, "Battle for the
Bible," centered on Moyers' one-sided look at the recent
conservative genesis of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the
largest U.S. Protestant denomination. Dismissing any idea that the
Baptists may have wanted a conservative leadership, he concluded:
"By 1987, the fundamentalists controlled the denomination's
superstructure. Their biblical agenda and the social agenda of the New
Right had become indistinguishable." Moyers went to great lengths
to attack SBC resolutions on abortion and school prayer, as well as to
condemn ties to conservative politics. Of Judge Paul Pressler, a SBC
leader, Moyers asked: "But aren't you a member of the Council for
National Policy?...Shouldn't people out there know about your political
connections?" Moyers' conclusion clearly showed his disdain:
"[the SBC can now] enroll God in partisan politics and make one
party the sole party of truth....Of all people, Baptists must know that
making biblical doctrine the test of political opinion is democratic
Interestingly, Moyers failed to mention
that one of his chief sources on the show, liberal minister James Dunn,
is a former director of People for the American Way, a liberal lobby.
What about liberal religious groups and their involvement? He had plenty
of criticism for the SBC's endorsement of Robert Bork for the Supreme
Court, but had nothing to say about liberal church groups like the
National Council of Churches and the Progressive Baptist Association,
both of which opposed Bork. When asked about this obvious double
standard, Executive Producer Joan Konner avoided MediaWatch's
questions, claiming: "We at some point would love the opportunity
to examine all these issues further....That doesn't mean we are actively
seeking to do the other side of the story."
Pressler called Moyers' presentation a
"very inaccurate, narrow, and limited viewpoint of what is going on
in the SBC." But indeed, all this comes as little surprise. As a
CBS analyst during the 1984 GOP Convention Moyers spent most of his time
disparaging conservatives, referring to them as "the fringe exotic
radicals" with an "authoritarian" goal. Incredibly, the
December 7 USA Today quotes CBS News President Howard Stringer
as yearning for Moyers to return since he's such "a great resource
to have in an election year." That reveals a lot about CBS News
concern for accuracy and fairness.
IN WHO SAYS IT
Staff writer Jacob Lamar Jr. lashed out
at what he called Jack Kemp's call for "unrealistically stringent
verification procedures" in a December 14 Time magazine
As for Pat Robertson, Lamar's supposedly
opinion-free "news" article included this disparaging
assessment: "Robertson's conditions for signing an arms accord
seemed even more fanciful: he glibly recommended 'a rollback, a
decolonization, if you will, of the Soviet empire."'
That's quite a different media reaction
than greeted President John F. Kennedy's now famous, and widely
considered inspirational, words along the same line: "We shall pay
any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend,
oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of
liberty." Where was Time then?
THE SCROOGE OF CBS. The
day after Thanksgiving marks the traditional start of the Christmas
shopping season. But CBS and ABC told viewers completely different
stories about what the day meant to the upcoming busiest retail sales
season. On the November 27 CBS Evening News, reporter Ray Brady
once again earned his doom and gloom, or in this case
"Scrooge," reputation by ominously warning: "There's a
shadow hanging over the holidays, the shadow of the stock market
crash." After a bit of searching Brady found a supposedly typical
"New York shopper" who backed up his premise, claiming
"the stock market crash has effected my habits, in the way that I'm
being much more conservative this year." (Interestingly, on the
same day CNN's Greg LaMotte reported "the majority of shoppers we
spoke with said the stock market crash" will "have little or
no effect on what or how much they buy.") Later Brady quoted a
"new survey" showing "the average American family will
spend about $380 on Christmas gifts this year, about the same as last
year." Naturally, Brady felt compelled to bring on a "consumer
analyst" to dismiss the seemingly good news as not so good because
it meant sales would not increase.
Over on World News Tonight, Boston
Herald columnist and ABC reporter Bill O'Reilly arrived at the
opposite conclusion using the same facts. O'Reilly gave the $380 per
family figure a little Christmas cheer spin, explaining, "since
American households are increasing, sales projections are up. That's
what store owners like to hear as they look for signals that people will
buy." As for the seasonal outlook, an upbeat O'Reilly concluded:
"Late today Bloomingdales and Macy's both reported an increase in
sales over this day last year, an early, hopeful sign that the Christmas
buying season might just be jolly after all."
Official figures to tell who was right
are not yet out, but it just goes to show how easily reporters can take
the same basic facts, and lead viewers to totally different conclusions
by simply adding a little directional spin.
BROADCAST'S BROAD WITH A
SENSITIVE BRA. Many believe the new movie Broadcast News,
set in the Washington bureau of a TV network, is modeled after CBS.
Susan Zirinsky should know. She's a Senior Producer of the CBS
Evening News in Washington who took a leave from the network to
help produce the film.
As Tom Shales recounted in a December 13 Washington
Post Magazine story, Zirinsky was "dazzled" by the
performance of Jack Nicholson playing a "Rather-like
anchorman." She told Shales: "When he came on the set and
started acting, I could feel it in my bra. That's how great it
was." Too bad Rather didn't put in a cameo appearance.
THE BOESKY TWIST. When a
New York court convicted Ivan Boesky on December 18 of charges stemming
from his illegal "insider" stock trading, the three networks
and CNN made it their lead item. But only the CBS Evening News
devoted an entire story to portraying
Boesky as the natural consequence of
conservative values that became dominant during the 1980's. CBS
correspondent Bob Schieffer offered Reagan's 1983 comment that he wanted
to make sure the U.S. "remains a country where someone can always
get rich" as symbolic of misplaced values this decade. To
corroborate his premise, Schieffer interviewed liberal historian Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr. who placed the blame on Reagan's conservative economic
policies: "What happened to Boesky is a predictable result of an
era which assigns moral priority to the pursuit of self-interest and
where the machinery of regulation in the public interest is
systematically weakened and discredited."
Agreeing with that assessment, Schieffer
looked forward to life after Reagan, concluding his report:
"Mopping up after the new gilded age and people like Boesky may
well be the most important task the next President faces."
CBS FAILS TO GIVE MIRANDA RIGHT.
A top level official of the Sandinista regime defects to the United
States. He discloses that Nicaragua has no intention of abiding by the
Central American peace agreement. He reveals Sandinista plans to train
communist guerrillas from El Salvador, double the size of its military
force and acquire advanced Soviet MiG-21 jet fighters, anti-aircraft
missiles and artillery. The story is then confirmed publicly by
Sandinista Defense Minister Humberto Ortega.
You might think the media would consider
this remarkable development worthy of a major story, especially since it
contradicted the "peace" overtures for the region Gorbachev
made during the summit. At least ABC, CNN and NBC thought so. But not
CBS. The network ignored the charges leveled by Major Roger Miranda, a
former top aide to Humberto Ortega, which first appeared in a page one Washington
Post story on December 13.
That night, after Miranda held a press
conference, ABC's World News Sunday led with the story. On
Monday, ABC's John McWethy delivered a lengthy report. NBC carried a
football game on Sunday, but in a similar Monday, December 14 Nightly
News piece Anne Garrels, like Anthony Collings on CNN PrimeNews,
told about Sandinista plans to kidnap American citizens in neighboring
nations in case of a U.S. invasion.
The first peep from CBS did not occur
until Tuesday, December 15 when Evening News anchor Dan Rather
barely acknowledged the major development, blithely saying Reagan did
not "confront Gorbachev with the latest information from a defector
about planned future aid" to Nicaragua. That was it. Censorship
doesn't get any better than this.
FACTS DON'T STALL STAHL'S STORY.
On November 13, CBS reporter Lesley Stahl devoted an entire Evening
News story to advocating a tax increase. "To cut the deficit,
why not raise income taxes just a little?" Stahl asked. "A two
percent rate hike," she proposed, "would bring in more than
$27 billion." A bit later she complained that "the system
can't agree on any taxes, even a gas tax now when prices are low. A ten
cent a gallon increase would raise ten billion dollars and discourage
foreign consumption." Stahl ended the story by claiming most people
are on her side, declaring: "The American people may be ready for
sacrifice, but their elected officials are not ready to call for
But, Stahl's Washington bureau colleague,
Bob Schieffer, arrived at just the opposite conclusion. On November 19
he did a story on the deficit, but reluctantly concluded a tax increase
is not the answer because: "Taxes are still as unpopular as ever
today." So who had it right? Schieffer did. A CBS News/New York
Times poll released November 30 found that 60 percent of Americans
are against paying any more in federal taxes. Stahl is apparently not
one to let facts get in the way of a good story.
GLASNOST ANYONE? This is
how Mikhail Gorbachev begins the U.S. edition of his new tome,
"The purpose of this book is to talk
without intermediaries to the citizens of the whole world about things
that, without exception, concern us all. I have written this book
because I believe in their common sense. I am convinced that they, like
me, worry about the future of our planet."
But the Hungarian edition of the same
book begins this way:
"In our work and worries, we are
motivated by those Leninist ideals and noble endeavors and goals which
mobilized the workers of Russia seven decades ago to fight for the new
and happy world of socialism. Perestroika is a continuation of the
rests its case and thanks The New Republic's December 21
edition for bringing out this enlightening information.
WALKING ON THE LEFT SIDE.
"A hip, cool, political satire," is how New York Times
movie critic Vincent Canby appraised "Walker," a film that as
even Canby reported, "was produced with the complete cooperation of
the Sandinista government" of Nicaragua. Director Alex Cox takes
the real life story of William Walker, an American adventurer who
briefly ruled Nicaragua in the 1850's, and uses it as a convenient plot
from which to rail against U.S. "interventionism" today.
Indeed, the newspaper ad for the film is none too subtle, proclaiming:
"Before Rambo...Before Oliver North...Walker, a true story."
To make sure theater-goers get the connection to current events, Cox
adds a few anachronisms to the 19th century scenes, like a modern
helicopter rescuing Walker's men.
The heavy-handed left-wing political
message turned off even a reviewer usually excited by such film themes.
Rita Kempley of The Washington Post, who considered
"Platoon" to be "the finest film of 1987," labeled
"Walker" a "bungled, gratuitously gory political
diatribe." But some others, like Time magazine's Richard
Schickel approved. In the December 7 issue he wrote: "At all times
one is glad to see the spirit of youthful subversion alive, applied to a
sober subject." Neither Schickel or Kempley bothered to mention the
Sandinistas' enthusiastic cooperation in producing the movie for Yankee
audiences. Nor did they or Canby inform readers the film ends by rolling
"special thanks" credits to Minister of the Interior, Tomas
Borge, the man in charge of the Sandinista secret police. While this was
enough to turn off most people, since "Walker" died after just
a few weeks in theaters, it did not bother Canby. He concluded his
review by issuing this endorsement of the film's anti-U.S. policy
'"Walker' is witty, rather than
laugh-out loud funny. Without being solemn, it's deadly serious. It's
also provocative enough to reach beyond -- if not preach to -- those
already converted. 'Walker' is something very rare in American movies
these days. It has nerve."
A Communist By Any Other Name.
During summit week the nation's two most influential papers never once
used a negative term like "dictator" to describe Gorbachev.
Between December 6 and 11 The New York Times and Washington
Post ran 242 news stories mentioning Gorbachev: 124 stories did not
label him; 101 simply called him the "Soviet leader" and 16
referred to him as "General Secretary." On one occasion the Post
tagged him "Communist Party Leader."
Flowers for Detente. Not
all the demonstrators surrounding the summiteers got the coverage they
deserved. The Dec. 5 evening newscasts of CBS, CNN and NBC led with
scenes of children in Washington taking flowers to the Soviet embassy
and the White House; only the Soviets, the networks noted, accepted
them. However, when children maimed by Soviet toy bombs in Afghanistan
demonstrated four days later, they were ignored not only by the Soviets,
but also by NBC and ABC. Dan Rather put the story fourth on the Evening
News; CNN balanced its earlier lead by putting the Afghans at the
top of PrimeNews.
Flip the Lever, Mr. Murphy.
As Murphy goes, so goes ABC News? Thomas Murphy, Chairman of the Board
and CEO of Capital Cities ABC Inc. was so ecstatic upon meeting
Gorbachev that he reportedly told him: "If I were a Soviet citizen,
I'd vote for you."
Gorbymania With A
If you tuned in news coverage of the
December Reagan-Gorbachev summit expecting to hear the Soviet line on
detente, glasnost, Afghanistan, and the moral equivalence of the two
powers, the networks certainly did not let you down.
But if you also expected that same line
on the Strategic Defense Initiatives (SDI) and Soviet human rights
violations, ABC, CBS, and NBC offered a pleasant surprise. So proves a
Media Research Center (MRC) study of 47 evening newscasts
between November 23, two weeks before the Soviet chieftain's arrival,
and December 10 the night of his departure.
The most surprising discoveries: First,
even after eight years after a brutal and bloody Soviet occupation of
Afghanistan and repeated false claims they intend to withdraw, the media
still viewed the Soviet line as credible, giving it as much time and
legitimacy as the U.S. view and second, in a turn around from Geneva and
Reykjavik, MRC analysts found summit news reports firmly supportive of
MRC researchers viewed and timed every
story on the summit that appeared on ABC's World News Tonight,
the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News for the two
and a half week period. All ideas expressed, including reporters'
statements and comments from political leaders and experts, were placed
into one of nine "issues" categories totaling 285 minutes or
74.9 percent of summit air time.
A tenth category,
"non-issue/fluff," contained all parts of stories that were
largely non-political in nature (i.e. summit schedule, Washington hotels
and police preparing for the summit, the Raisa Gorbachev-Nancy Reagan
meetings, summary montages, etc.) and amounted to 95 minutes and 51
seconds or 25.1 percent of the entire coverage. Of all summit coverage,
37.1 percent concerned arms issues: INF START, SDI, or past treaty
violations. Another 25.5 percent of the coverage concerned detente,
glasnost, or the moral equivalence of the superpowers. Only 12.2 percent
focused on human rights in the Soviet Union or regional conflicts around
INF (93:36; 24.6%) and START
(27:20; 7.2%). Overall, 39.4% promoted the INF treaty, while
24.8% opposed the agreement. Analysts considered the other 35.9% to be
informational. A diverse selection of people were featured promoting the
treaty, including substantial time given to Reagan and Gorbachev. Those
usually featured opposing the treaty were Republican presidential
candidates. CBS anchor Dan Rather was one of the few newsmen who
exhibited a healthy bit of skepticism toward the agreement, noting on
Nov. 30: "Both sides are trying to accentuate the positive, but
negotiators from both sides know that the enormous Russian army may well
Despite decades of Soviet cheating on
previous accords, only 4.5 minutes of the INF coverage, (1.2% of total
summit news), concerned past Soviet treaty violations. Incredibly, 51%
of treaty story time excused past treaty infringements and believed they
should have no bearing on signing the INF treaty. ABC's Sam Donaldson
made his opinion known on Dec. 2, complaining: "The White House
deliberately threw a damper on things by sending Congress a report on
Soviet of past treaties, a report which could have been delayed."
Only 14% of the coverage viewed past violations as consequential to INF.
Cover-critics opposing a strategic agreement by more than five to one.
Are the Powers Morally Equal?
(46:46; 12.3%). Yes, according to the networks since over 59%
portrayed the Soviet leader or his regime as morally equal to the U.S.
in world affairs. Only 21.6% portrayed Gorbachev and his system as less
credible or moral than Reagan and the U.S. As part of their campaign to
promote moral equality, the media spent an exorbitant amount of time
praising the sincerity of Gorbachev. On Nov. 27, NBC's Sandy Gilmour
delivered this glowing portrait: "Unlike his stone-faced
predecessors, Mikhail Gorbachev is congenial, confident, charismatic --
a gifted politician, tough infighter, a superb salesman, who wants to
change his country's dark and gloomy image ...Gorbachev seems to be
genuinely liked here." ABC's Walter Rodgers offered the most
fervent endorsement of moral equivalence. In a Dec. 9 story, summed up
Gorbachev's view: "Gorbachev revealed another basic difference he
has with President Reagan and many Americans on human rights."
Rodgers then put on Gorbachev to say that the United States has no moral
right to pressure the Soviets on the issue. Apparently Rodgers agreed
since he offered no criticism of Gorbachev's assertion.
The Validity of Glasnost and
Perestroika (33:14; 8.7%). The study confirmed most in the
media have little doubt that Gorbachev is sincere is his campaign to
"reform" Soviet social and economic life. Of air time devoted
to glasnost and Perestroika, researchers identified 56.4% as promoting
the policies as genuine. NBC was clearly the most enthusiastic,
promoting glasnost as legitimate 80% of the time. CBS was far more
skeptical, promoting the policy only 15.3% of the time. NBC's Gilmour
gleefully pushed Gorbachev's programs, calling Perestroika "the
most radical economic and social reforms in Soviet history."
Gilmour's Nov. 27 report continued: "All that and more openness are
the drastic changes sought by this life-long communist...Gorbachev may
be the right man at the right time." Only 12% of the views aired by
the networks characterized glasnost as superficial or ungenuine.
Calls for Detente (17:24; 4.6%).
When it came to future relations with the Soviet Union, 13 minutes or
75% of the time was devoted to offering the views of people encouraging
a new detente frame-work similar to the 1970s. 14.7% saw a return to
detente as a threat to U.S. national security. Promotion of detente
ranged from a high of 93% for ABC to a low of 49% for CBS, with NBC at
Human Rights (26:50; 7.0%).
Almost 75% of air time devoted to human rights called to mind Soviet
evils like restrictions on Jewish emigration. Only 21% could be
described as excusing Soviet behavior, characterizing the situation as
improving day by day. In contrast, coverage during the Geneva summit was
evenly split on the issue. ABC's Rodgers was one of the few willing to
give the Soviets credit. On the occasion of the reunification of some
Soviet families, Rodgers gushed on Nov. 25: "For these Soviets, Mr.
Gorbachev's policy of glasnost translates into a homecoming." But
Wyatt Andrews of CBS saw through the charade of pre-summit releases,
explaining on Dec. 3: "By now, this is all a predictable pre-summit
process. Joyful reunions one day, little rejections the next. And no
fundamental change on the Soviet side that would make international
travel and both of these emotional scenes unnecessary."
SDI: A Media Turnaround (20:37;
5.4%). In another reversal from the Reykjavik and Geneva
summits, 39.7% of SDI news coverage promoted deployment, research, or
funding. Only 15.1% of coverage was anti-SDI. At the 1985 Geneva summit,
MediaWatch editors found that only 10.7% of
the coverage was pro-SDI, while 38.4% was anti-SDI. The only difference
between the two summits: Gorbachev decided not to make SDI an issue this
Afghanistan (17:53; 4.7%).
Despite the ongoing Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the American media
still gives an amazing level of credibility to the Soviet propaganda
line. 40% of the coverage endorsed the Soviet position that the Red Army
must remain until a "political" solution is reached. Not once
did the networks portray the Soviets as the aggressors or recount their
1979 invasion. Sadly, the Free World's position that there is no excuse
for continued occupation only received 40% of the time.
ABC News failed to air any reports from
the frontlines of the war while NBC aired just one and CBS three. When
asked why the situation in Afghanistan was not deemed important enough
for at least one feature story, ABC press representative Karen Reynolds
dismissed the concern: "It was just an editorial judgement."
The few lengthy stories by Mark Phillips
of CBS and NBC's Peter Kent avoided the most fundamental issues. Instead
of asking why the Soviets have made no effort to scale down their
occupation and pull out, both correspondents preferred to paint the
Soviets as more victim than villain. As Kent reported on Dec. 9:
"The Soviets seem to be hunkering down, in effect, until they can
work a deal to extract themselves from their own Vietnam." Phillips
assessed the situation from the Soviet angle. On Dec. 3 he reported:
"A Soviet withdrawal, [the Afghan President] now says, can take
place in a 12 month period once the mujahideen stop fighting and the
United States stops supporting them."
Other Regional Conflicts (1:51;
0.5%). Except for vague, passing references to Nicaragua,
Cambodia and Angola, totaling a piddling 0.5% of all coverage, the
networks ignored Soviet aggression in other parts of the world.
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