Bettering the World?
Cable broadcasting mogul Ted Turner has
crafted a clever way to spread his leftist and pro-Soviet views to the
American public. Through his Atlanta cable superstation WTBS and CNN,
Turner airs many ads and documentaries produced by the communist-backed
Better World Society (BWS). Turner founded BWS in 1985 and serves as
The Board of Directors boasts several
communist officials, including Georgi Arbatov, Director of the Soviet
Foreign Ministry's U.S.-Canada Institute. A recent addition is Communist
China's Zhou Boping, Vice Chairman of the State Family Planning
Association. Zhou oversees the one-child population control program
which has led to death for millions of unborn and newborn babies through
the regime's forced infanticide campaign.
BWS Associate Producer Mark Greenberg
told MediaWatch the society is dedicated to
"promoting East-West relations, lessening the tension of the
nuclear arms race, reversing environmental degradation, and promoting
population stabilization." But what do they really do? In 1987, BWS
aired "Beyond Fear" on WTBS, a five program series aimed at
countering "the hysterical 'Amerika' series on ABC." After the
signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty last December, BWS
began running pro-ratification commercials on WTBS, CNN and Headline
In cooperation with the pro-abortion
International Planned Parenthood Federation, BWS produced and broadcast
"Increase and Multiply?" to present the case for more
"family planning" throughout the world. In 1987 Turner also
aired "Disarmament and Beyond." With whom did BWS create the
one-hour panel discussion? None other than the Soviet government.
Two projects will be given top priority
in 1988: an anti-SDI series and a program illustrating opportunities for
U.S.-Soviet "cooperation." The latter program will be proposed
as a joint venture with state-controlled Soviet television. Greenberg
confirmed that airtime for all BWS ads and documentaries "is
donated by Turner Broadcasting." Turner's extreme political antics
only help destroy the credibility of his networks, including CNN.
former Director of Critical Mass, Ralph Nader's
anti-nuclear power group, has begun work as a Washington-based Segment
Producer for ABC's Good Morning America.
Leaving Nader in the early 1980's,
Pollock formed a public relations firm catering to liberal causes. In
1985 he coordinated the anti-Strategic Defense Initiative television ad
campaign of the Peace Media Project.
Trying to bring a little balance to the
network, CBS News asked Jack Kemp's Press Secretary, John
Buckley to be a political campaign coverage consultant. Buckley
put in his first on-air appearance during the CBS Pennsylvania primary
But Buckley is still outgunned. Two
liberals also hold the title of consultant: Tom Donilon
and Harrison Hickman. Donilon helped run Walter
Mondale's 1984 campaign and Joe Biden's
short-lived effort last year. Hickman heads a Democratic polling firm.
Among his past clients: liberal Maryland Senator Barbara
Mikulski, Gary Hart's first try in 1987 and
then the Paul Simon campaign.
Meanwhile, CBS This Morning has decided
to bring aboard Christopher Matthews, former top aide
to House Speaker Tip O'Neill as a "political
columnist." He's providing viewers with campaign insights "at
least twice a month."
Ira Allen, who left
United Press International (UPI) in January after 18 years, became Press
Secretary for liberal Congressman Chester Atkins
(D-Mass.) in April. For the past four years he helped cover the White
House for the wire service.
John Hanrahan, a
Washington reporter for UPI until early 1987, named Executive Director
of the Fund for Investigative Journalism. In 1982 and 1983 he served as
Senior Editor of Common Cause Magazine.
Hanrahan was a Washington Post reporter from 1968 to 1976.
Former CBS News President Ed Joyce's new
book, Prime Times, Bad Times, reveals an interesting bit of
background information about the CBS News executive in charge of the
1982 documentary on General William Westmoreland
Roger Colloff, Vice
President for public affairs broadcasts in 1981 and 1982 served as an
aide to then Senator Walter Mondale before joining the Carter
Administration as Special Assistant to Secretary of Energy James
He's held a variety of high-level
positions with CBS since 1979, including Vice President of the Broadcast
Group, becoming General Manager of New York's WCBS-TV in 1984, a job he
Janet Cooke Award
Today on Angola
From April 18 to April 22, NBC's Today
aired a five-part series on the continuing civil war in Angola. The 24
minute series was repeatedly billed as an objective analysis yet focused
exclusively on the war from the communist government perspective. In
fact, only once -- during the final moments of the last segment -- did
the show even use the word "communist" to label the regime.
This is just one of the many reasons why Today received the May
Janet Cooke Award.
Today contributing correspondent
Jon Alpert, of New York's Downtown Community TV, traveled to Angola in
March. His entire series originated from the area controlled by the
communist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Alpert
painted a mostly negative picture of the pro-U.S. democratic resistance,
The Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Dr. Jonas
Savimbi. Although it was the MPLA, with the help of Cuban troops and
Soviet weapons, that seized power in 1975, Alpert described UNITA as the
invader. In part one, Alpert claimed: "To stay in power, the
Angolans have invited over 30,000 troops to come and defend their
country. Recently, the UNITA forces along with South African troops have
pushed into the southern part of Angola."
UNITA has repeatedly signaled its
willingness to end the war at any time, by negotiating a cease fire and
terms for free and democratic elections. Just May 11, according to
Agence France-Presse, the Angolan Foreign Minister again delayed planned
negotiations with South Africa over the presence of external forces in
the country. But instead of blaming the continuation of the war on the
MPLA regime, Alpert adopted the communist propaganda line,
characterizing the resistance as the obstacle to peace.
Alpert portrayed a population on the run
from UNITA: "The bombardment is constant. Day and night for the
past three months, South Africa and UNITA have applied the
pressure...and there's no end in sight....There are refugee camps all
over Angola. Almost half the population has been displaced by the
constant fighting...Ten thousand lost their legs to land mines last
year." Alpert also relayed the communist propaganda line on UNITA
human rights violations. Despite being in a MPLA-controlled village, he
reported as fact that UNITA forces cut off the hands of a villager with
Much of the remainder of the series was
devoted to daily life. Alpert claimed that because of the war "food
production is down," and "half the babies in Angola die before
five years old." Why? According to Alpert: "Most of Angola's
money goes for military equipment and training." Alpert ignored the
fact that vast oil reserves generate over $2 billion each year for the
regime, but less than $60 million is spent on the people.
When contacted by MediaWatch,
Alpert passed off responsibility to Today, declaring: "I
told them we had been working on getting into [communist] Angola
[only]." Asked why he never contacted UNITA to refute some of the
charges, Alpert claimed he was unable to get a visa to South Africa in
order to visit the UNITA areas. He later admitted that was two years
ago. About ignoring well-documented evidence of torture and imprisonment
within the MPLA areas, Alpert snapped: "In any one country there
are thousands of things you do and others you can't. You can't cover
everything. I think we were much harder than many on showing the
inadequacies there. The totality of the coverage was balanced."
Alpert asserted Today ran a
story on UNITA in November, a claim denied by Today spokesman
John Bianchi. Asked whether a story from the UNITA perspective is
planned, Bianchi responded: "I cannot comment on that." In
fact, Alpert implied that he and NBC were more interested in giving the
communist view, explaining: "People have seen UNITA; we were trying
to give a side that few people have actually seen." Alpert noted
NBC said "okay" to that slant.
Sam's Slanted World Skew.
Coverage of May Day events worldwide offered a tremendous opportunity
for political labeling. On May 1, ABC's World News Sunday
anchor Sam Donaldson referred to "Soviet leader Gorbachev" and
"Cuban leader Fidel Castro."
In an earlier report on rioting and
demonstrations in Poland, David Ensor spoke of "Poland's leader,
General Wojciech Jaruzelski."
But when it came to political unrest in
Chile, ABC suddenly changed its tune and used far more descriptive
language. Donaldson declared: "In Chile, a country ruled by
military dictator Augusto Pinochet, demonstrators opposing his rule drew
police tear gas and other riot control measures."
From Canada to Mexico to El Salvador and Honduras, "anti-American
feelings" are growing. So argued John Chancellor in a May 3 NBC Nightly
News commentary. Who is to blame for this? The U.S. of course
which, in the interest of good neighborly relations, should just sit
back and let the Soviets achieve a base on the continent. Chancellor
explained: "Diplomacy has been replaced in recent years by
sloganeering and belligerence. Instead of making deals with the
Sandinistas, the President said he wanted them to 'cry uncle.'"
Stahl Account. How
liberal is CBS News national affairs correspondent Lesley Stahl?
Appearing on Howard Cosell's since canceled Speaking of Everything
interview show on April 10, Stahl repeated the ritual liberal argument
"that the big tax cut, coupled with the increase in military
spending, was an unhealthy thing for our country," insisting,
"you simply have to raise taxes."
She expressed "surprise" Reagan
"has not been an advocate of civil rights," concluding
"the record is abysmal." On foreign policy she termed Reagan's
performance at Reykjavik, where he rejected Soviet demands to drop SDI,
"a disaster." Stahl and MacNeil-Lehrer reporter Judy
Woodruff, who also appeared on the program, agreed things did improve
after the administration "got rid of all the ideologues" like
Leftist Heading of the Class.
ABC has allowed liberal actor Howard Hessman to use Head of the
Class, a situation comedy, as a forum for his political views. The
latest example occurred during the May 4 program when "Mr.
Moore," the high school history teacher played by Hessman, asked
his advanced placement students to predict what life might be like in
2038. One student, "Maria," castigated another for looking
positively on the assignment, complaining, "What is fun about toxic
waste, or acid rain, or even nuclear war?" She successfully
depressed the class by warning: "Economic collapse is right around
the corner. There's depression, there's famine, there's war."
Then scientific whiz "Dennis"
chimed in, delivering this polemic: "Science today is just a tool
in the hands of the superpowers. All they want to do are build things
like Star Wars and lasers and beam weapons in space...I have just come
to the realization that those people out there are using me, using me
for their evil ends. Well, I'm not going to have any part of it."
A few episodes earlier, "Mr.
Moore" spent a show praising the goals of 1960's protesters who
were "trying to end the war" and "make the world a better
place" because "they cared." One student tried to
convince "Mr. Moore" he had achieved the proper level of
reverence for the era by organizing a cafeteria sit-in to protest
chemicals in the food. In an obvious swipe at the Reagan Administration,
another student, "Darlene," complained "we're dealing
with people who consider ketchup a vegetable."
Creating the News. The
Sunday, April 24 Washington Post lead headline declared:
"SDI Faulted in 2-Year Hill Study." The Post's R.
Jeffrey Smith reported the supposedly bi-partisan congressional Office
of Technology Assessment (OTA) claimed: "President Reagan's
proposed missile defense system likely would 'suffer a catastrophic
failure' the first--and therefore only--time it was used to protect the
United States against a Soviet nuclear attack." Smith added:
"The OTA report's overall conclusion is that, despite five years
and $12 billion worth of scientific research, 'many questions remain
about the feasibility of meeting SDI goals.'"
A little investigation shows how
contrived the Post attack on SDI truly was. The Post
didn't bother to check with the Pentagon about this report, which has
not yet been released and has been delayed almost a year. Presidential
arms control adviser Edward Rowney has since outlined the numerous
inaccuracies of the 900 page OTA report. Significant technological
progress has been made since the OTA report was filed almost a year ago,
something the Post didn't bother to report.
But they also ignored the portions which
matched Reagan Administration concerns. OTA noted that the first phase
of SDI would be deployable between 1995 and 2000, but that significant
parts of the program would be slowed or aborted if Congress continued
cutting budget requests.
The unpublished report could be
considered newsworthy. But the April 25 Washington Times
reported the preliminary version the Post
"discovered" had been around for two months. The night the Post
story ran NBC Nightly News picked up on the
"revelation" with reporter Jim Miklaszewski concluding:
"SDI is already under budget and arms control pressures...and this
latest report certainly won't help." It just shows how easy it is
for the Post to create news matching their liberal agenda.
Planting the Closing Line.
On April 21 the U.S. House passed a massive trade bill. It included a
provision Democrats hope to turn into a campaign issue: 60 days notice
before any layoffs, or pay stiff financial penalties. Almost immediately
the networks joined the Democratic bandwagon.
Without debating the issue of its effect
on job creation, reporters dramatized its desirability by presenting
anecdotal looks at the suffering of laid off workers. That night CBS
News economics reporter Ray Brady weighed in with a story from the point
of view of two Iowa Pork employees let go without notice. Six days later
the Senate passed the bill. Brady dropped all pretense of balance and
took up the cause, beginning his April 27 story: "At plants around
the country they're fighting mad. Workers saying why shouldn't they get
60 days notice when fired executives get fortunes for leaving."
Brady ignored the other side of the story. As economist Murray
Weidenbaum explained on World News Tonight, it encourages
companies to close marginal plants "because if you guess wrong, and
you have to close it without notice, you're going to be socked with all
kinds of sanctions."
Daring to Cut the Cheese.
Back in 1981 the Reagan Administration launched a program to distribute
surplus dairy products to the needy. Advocates of the poor and more than
a few reporters ridiculed the idea. Now, as the surpluses dry up forcing
the government to phase out the program, CBS is indignant. On the April
30 Evening News reporter Lynn Brown argued: "With no
assistance, no food stamps, and now no cheese and powdered milk, working
poor families could find it even more difficult to put protein on the
table." A mother of four "can't understand why the government
has to stop" the distribution.
Anchor Susan Spencer then introduced
University of Chicago sociologist William Julius Wilson to offer his
solution: "I think we need to pay particular attention to the type
of legislation before Congress put there by people like Paul Simon
calling for a guaranteed jobs program. We can't wait for creation of
jobs in the private sector."
Unemployment Plunges, But, But. .
. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent in April to 5.4
percent, the lowest level in 14 years. How did the networks play the May
6 story? Here are two examples. On World News Tonight, ABC's
Sheilah Kast announced: "[It's] good news for Republicans running
for office, but there are some worries. At least one-fourth of the new
jobs are part-time only and 800,000 people are still searching
unsuccessfully for work after more than six months." Tom Brokaw
opened the NBC Nightly News by reporting the development is
"obviously good news, but you guessed it, it may mean bad news in
the form of higher inflation."
Jacksonomics Over Reaganomics.
How does The Washington Post compare Reagan's conservative
economic policies to Jesse Jackson's far-left economic agenda? In an
April 4 front page story reviewing Jackson's "bold" economic
ideas, Paul Taylor wrote: "Jackson has said repeatedly that it is
necessary to correct eight years of 'reverse Robin Hood,' during which
Reaganomics 'has made the rich richer and the poor poorer.' On that
claim, Jackson is well grounded in statistics."
Taylor is anything but "well
grounded" in giving credibility to such a specious charge.
Inflation, which hurts the poor the most, has been reduced to a barely
noticeable level under Reagan and 14 million jobs created. And taxes? An
April 5 Treasury Department report told the real story. When the top
income tax rate stood at 70 percent in 1981, people making over $100,000
paid 15 percent of all taxes collected by the IRS. By 1986, with the top
rate down to 50 percent, that level doubled to nearly 31 percent. Over
the same period, the share paid by those earning less than $50,000 fell
from 67 percent to 46 percent. So much for Robin Hood in reverse.
Rushing to Battle. On
the first page of his new book, The Coming Battle for the Media,
Curbing the Power of the Media Elite, William Rusher lays out his
thesis: "In recent decades the principal media in the United
States, responding to intellectual trends once dominant but now less so,
have allied themselves with those political forces promoting liberal
policies...and have placed news reportage at the service of those
policies." In the following chapters he presents a persuasive case.
Rusher outlines specific instances of bias and reviews the findings of
numerous academic studies documenting one-sided coverage of major
issues. Using some examples collected by MediaWatch,
Rusher demonstrates the ease with which liberal activists obtain media
Rusher traces the evolution of modern day
"attack journalism," arguing the media long ago stopped
serving as a balanced check on government power. He contends the media
has transformed itself from "objective observers of the political
conflict" to "highly partisan participants in it" and
"will have to be recognized, challenged and defeated as such."
Rusher cautions that if reporters continue to censor conservative views,
the American people may be motivated to demand stricter enforcement of
the Fairness Doctrine and other limitations on their power. The thorough
examination of the danger a politically aligned media poses to the
political system is published by William Morrow.
Latching Onto Another Liberal
Cause. The economic recovery achieves its 66th month of
consecutive growth, a modern peace-time record of prosperity as the
percentage of Americans employed continues to reach record high levels.
Desperate, liberal Democrats are turning to exaggerations of the extent
of hunger and homelessness to create a campaign issue. And they're
getting plenty of help from the media. Newsweek Senior Editor
Tom Mathews promoted their cause in a March 21 "news" article:
"As a practical matter, the homeless won't get very far unless they
can persuade a Republican to break with Ronald Reagan's policies--or
elect a Democrat."
The entertainment divisions of the
networks have also joined the crusade. In late March a CBS "Schoolbreak
Special," a "powerful family special" on NBC, and an ABC
prime-time movie dramatized the plight of homeless and hungry families.
In ABC's "God Bless the Child" a social worker complained:
"If they gave me what it cost to build just one of those, I could
feed more people than that missile could kill." As economic
columnist Warren Brookes wrote, "the networks had to resort to
fiction" to make their case since there is no evidence hunger is on
the rise and authoritative federal studies show the number of homeless
is about one tenth what the CBS show claimed. As for blaming Reagan,
federal housing assistance under Reagan has skyrocketed by 174 percent
as nutritional program outlays have grown by 50 percent in constant
dollars. But why let facts get in the way of emotional, politically
Turner Turns to Teaching.
The April "Janet Cooke Award" went to Atlanta-based Turner
Broadcasting System, owner of Superstation WTBS, for its seven-hour
pro-Soviet documentary series "Portrait of the Soviet Union."
Among its many false pronouncements, the show declared that the Soviet
Union has freedom of religion and freedom of the press. The program
credited the revolution with giving the young "the chance to
succeed in a wider world--the kind of opportunities their grandparents
fought for them to have."
Now Ted Turner has announced a
cooperative agreement with Encyclopedia Britannica to market the series
to U.S. school systems. The joint venture is already underway with three
educational packages planned. Geared toward middle and high schools, the
first package, seven 50-minute videocassettes with study guides, is
already on its way to schools. The two other packages, ten slide shows
and three films, will be in schools by September. These are targeted for
elementary and middle school students. If Turner and Britannica have
their way, this one-sided, pro-Soviet series will be the first glimpse
school children will receive of the Soviet Union. The Media Research
Center (MRC) is developing a nationwide campaign to stop this
infiltration of Soviet propaganda into schools. If you would like an
action kit, please write the MRC at the address below.
Hickory, Dickory, Crockran.
On April 14 the Afghanistan peace accords were signed in Geneva. But
before the day was over NBC's John Cochran was already complaining of
U.S. violations: "Pakistan's President Zia has secretly promised
President Reagan he will ignore that part of the agreement. The
Pakistani leader will continue to allow the U.S. to use Pakistan as the
conduit to smuggle arms and other aid to anti-communist rebels inside
Afghanistan." Cochran concluded: "Some American officials
privately concede they are open to charges of cynicism, by guaranteeing
an agreement they fully expect to violate, at least technically."
But there was nothing "cynical"
or "secret" about the American actions. If Cochran had
bothered to follow the negotiations, or watch NBC News, he would know
that the Soviets also planned to violate the agreement. On April 7,
NBC's Chris Wallace noted that the Soviets had agreed to a policy of
symmetry, explaining "if the Soviets can continue sending arms to
the Afghan regime, the U.S. will continue sending arms to the
rebels." Four days later, Andrea Mitchell of NBC noted: "And
the Soviets told the White House this weekend 'no moratorium on arms to
either side.'" Cochran is the one open to charges of cynicism,
preferring to blame America first.
The Contras "should be thankful that
we're not offering them the guillotine or the firing squad, which is
what they deserve," Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega proclaimed in
his May Day speech. The city of Managua, Ortega sneered, would have to
be "disinfected" after the Contra negotiators left. But
virtually every major media outlet, including all four TV networks,
ignored Ortega's mockery of the Central American "peace
In late March, however, when the
Sandinistas were touting the Sapoa accord promises of free speech,
amnesty for the Contras, and the release of political prisoners, ABC's World
News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN PrimeNews and
NBC Nightly News all covered the story. In fact, a MediaWatch
Study reveals that the four network evening newscasts have
routinely covered Sandinista promises for reform since last fall. In
contrast, official Sandinista pronouncements and actions which show
contempt for the peace process or human rights are routinely ignored.
To conduct the Study, MediaWatch
examined how the networks covered six official Sandinista statements
promising compliance with peace accords versus ten instances when the
regime violated peace plan agreements or publicly rejected democratic
reforms. News about pledges for improvement were covered by at least
three of the four networks every time, but actions which contradicted
those pledges were either barely mentioned or completely ignored.
Consequently, viewers saw more than five times as many stories
portraying the Sandinistas as earnestly trying to develop a pluralistic
society than instances when they reaffirmed their totalitarian nature.
Demonstrating what concerned the media, all 13 feature length stories by
reporters in the field dealt with Sandinista moves to comply with peace
process. Contempt for the accords never received such substantial
Some examples. When the opposition
newspaper La Prensa was finally reopened last year, anchor Sam
Donaldson led the September 19 World News Sunday with the
announcement. In April, when the Marxist government withheld newsprint
from La Prensa, forcing it to close again, the TV newscasts
remained silent. On September 22 ABC, CBS, and NBC carried a story that
Radio Catolica could resume broadcasting. However, when Radio Catolica
was censored a month later the networks ignored the story.
On December 13 Ortega vowed to
"never give up power." Tom Brokaw overlooked that in
announcing on December 14 that Sandinistas had plans for a Christmas
cease-fire if the Contras would also agree. CNN's Lou Waters chose to
report Ortega's charge that the U.S. is "not interested in
peace." In January the networks all reported that the Sandinistas
lifted the state of emergency, which again supposedly ended all radio
censorship. But on May 1, The Miami Herald's Sam Dillon
reported that Interior Minister Tomas Borge "punched on the
forehead and chin" anti-government radio operator Jose Castillo.
The networks once again failed to pick up on the contradiction.
The Arias group monitoring commission
released a report on January 4 detailing Sandinista non-compliance. On
February 21, The Washington Times carried a front-page story
quoting Ortega's vow to "crush the Contras." Television news
ignored both stories. The Sandinistas have pledged to free 10,000
political prisoners; 985 were let go on November 22 and 100 more were
released on March 27. The networks faithfully covered the events. But in
early March, when Sandinista mobs attacked a peaceful march by mothers
protesting the military draft, no network even mentioned it. In another
obvious display of oppression, hoodlums threw rocks and violently
disrupted a meeting of opposition leaders on January 23. Only NBC's Ed
Rabel found time to make a brief reference to this incident.
Even an apparent exception to this trend
reinforces MediaWatch findings. When Ortega
asked Cardinal Obando y Bravo to mediate Contra-Sandinista talks, CNN,
NBC, and ABC ran on-location reports to tell the November 6 story. But
when Ortega fired the cardinal on March 3, CBS, CNN, and NBC anchormen
gave it brief mention. ABC, which had sent John Quinones to Managua to
report on Obando's appointment, spiked the story completely.
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