Worked For Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal
Reporter Admits He's A Marxist
"Eugene V. Debs may be my all-time
favorite American and Karl Marx my all-time favorite journalist,"
former Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times
reporter A. Kent MacDougall proclaimed recently. In November and
December articles for the Monthly Review, "an independent
socialist magazine," he explained that as a "closet socialist
boring unobtrusively from within," he had little trouble promoting
Marxist ideas in his news stories.
How did someone who also wrote articles
for the American Socialist and communist Daily Worker
manage this? MacDougall reasoned "that while newspaper owners and
editors don't go out looking for stories that make the capitalist system
look bad, the best don't flinch from running such stories if they meet
mainstream journalistic standards for accuracy and objectivity."
During his days at the Journal
from 1962 to 1972 MacDougal "took full advantage of the latitude Journal
reporters have to pick their own feature story topics and report on them
in depth." MacDougall proudly recalled how he "introduced
readers to the ideas of radical historians, radical economists...in
sympathetic page-one stories."
"I made sure to seek out experts
whose opinions I knew in advance would support my thesis," he
boasted, and "sought out mainstream authorities to confer
recognition and respectability on radical views I sought to
In 1977 the Times hired
MacDougall as a "special business correspondent" able to pick
his own stories. "I lost no time making it obvious where my
sympathies lay," MacDougall reported, noting that "of the
first dozen stories I wrote for the Times, one profiled the
leftist magazine Mother Jones and two others profiled Marxist
In the early 1980's MacDougall got an
opportunity to write a series that offered a Marxist explanation as to
"why the United States is among the least equal of mature
capitalist economies." Times editors nominated it for a
Pulitzer Prize. MacDougall left the Times in 1987 to find a new
vehicle for his views: "I picked up a pension (opposing the system
is no reason to pass up an opportunity to make it work for one) and
joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at the
University of California, Berkeley" where "tenure gives me the
luxury of coming out of the ideological closet at last."
NBC Promotes Cuomo Aide.
NBC News Vice President Tim Russert is back in Washington again. On
Inauguration Day, January 20, he became Washington Bureau Chief. Russert
last worked in Washington as Chief of Staff to Senator Patrick Moynihan
(D-NY) until 1982 when he moved to New York to serve as counselor to
liberal Governor Mario Cuomo. He jumped to NBC just after the 1984
election, soon gaining responsibility over the content of Today
and Nightly News. NBC News President Michael Gartner is
grooming Russert for bigger things. "After two years at the helm in
Washington," Gartner announced, "Tim will assume new
management responsibilities in New York."
In another part of Gartner's
re-organization of the division he took over last summer, he put Senior
Vice President Tom Ross in charge of a new strategic planning
department. Ross worked for the Carter Administration as Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
Just after the new year began Jonathan Larsen became Editor in Chief of
the Village Voice, the trendy liberal weekly in New York City.
Larsen was Time magazine's Saigon Bureau Chief from 1970-1971
and a Life Senior Editor earlier this decade. He succeeds
Martin Gottleib, a New York Times reporter before moving to the
Voice in 1986.
Time to Quayle.
Vice President Dan Quayle has tapped David Beckwith, a Time
correspondent since 1971 (with the exception of three years with Legal
Times), as his Press Secretary. Beckwith covered economics and
legal issues for the magazine until being assigned to the White House a
couple of years ago. He followed the Bush campaign last year.
Reich at Night. CBS Nightwatch
viewers got a surprise when they switched on the show just before New
Year's Day. A CBS News reporter has always filled in when regular host
Charlie Rose took vacation, but not on December 29, 30 and January 2.
CBS selected Robert Reich, who identified himself only as a professor of
political economy at Harvard University.
Over the three early mornings he
proceeded to interview Democratic presidential aspirant Bruce Babbitt,
whom he called "an attractive candidate;" moderated a
discussion about Castro's achievements; and discussed Reagan's record
with three liberal reporters, agreeing Reagan used to have "too
simplistic a view of the Soviet Union." CBS never told viewers
Carter appointed Reich to a high level Federal Trade Commission
position, nor did it reveal he was a key economic adviser to the Dukakis
More Praise Than
January 1 marked 30 years of communist
rule in Cuba, but the network evening news shows didn't view the
anniversary as anything particularly newsworthy. Not one story was
dedicated to Cuba's political repression. Some network morning shows and
news magazines, however, took notice.
On the anniversary, NBC's Sunday
Today rebroadcast segments of co-host Maria Shriver's trip to Cuba
last February. The essence of her message: while there are problems with
Cuba, Castro has been for the better and has provided for his people:
"Schools, family doctors, hospitals...the level of public services
was remarkable," she gushed, "free education, medicine, and
heavily subsidized housing."
On January 4, CBS This Morning's
Harry Smith picked up on yet another liberal line: the cause of
disgruntled exiles who want reconciliation with Cuba. He did give some
airtime to those who object to a rapprochement with Castro, but
sympathized with liberal exiles: "[These] 30 years have been marked
by limited contact between exiles and their homeland. And for some that
isolation has become unbearable." He went on to feature Maria
Herrera, whose views "last Spring cost her a corner of her home to
Harry Reasoner gave a more balanced
assessment on 60 Minutes. Though he repeated the distorted
communist line on "strides in medicine, education, and
housing," Reasoner noted that "over one million Cubans have
fled," and that "many young people are yearning for a change
and a chance to leave." Reasoner also sought out a prominent Cuban
human rights activist to rebut government claims that it does not hold
ABC's Good Morning America
co-host Charles Gibson was the most willing to raise the horrid side of
Castro's communist Cuba. On January 2, he asked liberal Congressman
Robert Torricelli: "Fidel Castro gave a speech yesterday...It was
as hard line as he's ever been. 'Socialism or Death!' 'Marxist-Leninism
or Death!' Why should we cozy up to somebody like that?"
Predictable Planetary Panaceas.
In lieu of the annual "Man of the Year," Time
magazine chose "The Endangered Earth" as "The Planet of
the Year." Time Publisher Robert Miller called it an
"unorthodox choice." That may be true, but once chosen, the
magazine's approach to their annual feature was anything but unorthodox
-- it was typical.
In almost forty pages titled "What
On Earth Are We Doing?" Time writers reviewed a multitude
of liberal concerns, from toxic waste, fossil fuel pollution,
deforestation, endangered species, the greenhouse effect, and the
burgeoning global population problem.
What are the solutions "earth's
vulnerability to man's reckless ways?" Time dropped all
pretense of objectivity, calling upon the U.S. to implement the usual
liberal panaceas: "Raise the Gasoline Tax," and
"Encourage Debt-for-Nature Swaps." Criticizing the Reagan
Administration for cutting off aid to international agencies that use
abortion, Time demanded the U.S. "immediately restore the
Surprise Verdict on Reaganomics.
When Newsweek reviewed Reagan's economic legacy in the December
26 issue, MediaWatch expected the worst. But
the magazine offered a refreshing surprise. Under the headline of
"The Magic of Reaganomics," Chief Economic Correspondent Rich
Thomas asserted that Reagan's "ideas have helped beat back
inflation and produce real growth that for the past six years has
surpassed that of any major nation except Japan."
After explaining how the theories of
Milton Friedman and determination of John Wayne guided Reagan, Thomas
concluded they "have helped Reagan compile the most impressive
peacetime economic record of any modern President--a legacy of bold
thinking and true grit."
Brady Bags Big Business.
The liberal Citizens for Tax Justice released a report attacking 16
large corporations for not paying any taxes after the 1986 Tax Reform
bill, CBS News reporter Ray Brady served as it's dutiful mouthpiece.
On the Sept. 22 Evening News, he reviewed
some of the examples and informed people on the street of the study.
They predictably complained about the unfairness. Brady concluded:
"If all the companies in its survey paid the regular corporate tax
rate of 40 percent, the government would have collected an extra $70
billion, enough to put a big dent in that huge federal deficit."
On December 9, The Washington Post
published a story on a survey of 1,000 corporations by Tax Analysts,
described as "a respected tax and information service." The
study determined Big Business paid an average tax rate of 24.72 percent
on their profits in 1987, up from 21.54 percent in 1986. MediaWatch
called Mr. Brady to ask why he ignored the study. He hung up.
A Retail "Ho-ho?" NBC
Says "Oh, No!" On December 16, NBC's Irving R. Levine
took a look at Christmas sales. He didn't like what he found.
"Merchants are pulling out all the stops to head off disaster,
including early mark downs and gimmicks," he warned. "After
six years without a recession, and heavy consumer spending, people are
worried about the economy and prices are higher."
By Christmas Eve Levine realized his dire
warning was off the mark, explaining: "Retailers were saved from a
dismal shopping season by the calendar. This year there were two more
shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than last year."
The day after Christmas Levine estimated sales would probably end up
seven percent from 1987. "Not a boom business," Levine
On January 5 ABC's Peter Jennings
described the season as "a very merry Christmas for the nation's
retailers" as "the largest in the country, Sears, had the
biggest month in its 102 year history." Levine missed that.
"Pro-Choice," Not "Pro-Life"
"Pro-choice groups said today that
their battle is not over," NBC Nightly News anchor Tom
Brokaw announced on November 10. Reporter Andrea Mitchell then proceeded
to detail the actions of "anti- abortion activists" and
"abortion opponents" in election day referenda on public
abortion funding. "Pro-choice activists," she said, were
"very worried about Bush and Quayle." NBC's story, and its use
of labels to describe the two sides in the abortion debate, typified
network news coverage of the issue during the last four months of 1988.
Objective reporting dictates that
journalists adhere to balance in their use of labels. For example, use
"pro-life" and "pro-choice," or
"anti-abortion" and "pro-abortion," or offer an
equal number of positive and negative labels on each side. But a MediaWatch
study reveals that when it came to stories on abortion, the networks
ignore all standards of objectivity.
reviewed all stories that discussed abortion aired on ABC World News
Tonight, the CBS Evening News, CNN PrimeNews, and
NBC Nightly News.
found 49 stories that included labels. With 87 mentions, the
"anti-abortion" tag was used most often by reporters or
anchors, with another 5 references to "abortion foes." The
terms "pro-life" or "right to life" were used only
24 times, less than one-third as often.
How did they label abortion supporters?
The networks' were far more sympathetic. Only once were those groups
called "pro-abortion." Instead, they were called the term they
prefer, "pro-choice," 19 times. Thirteen other times, they
were given euphemistic labels such as "abortion rights
advocates," "family planning advocates" or "birth
control advocates." In other words, the "pro-choice"
forces wee designated by their preferred label 97 percent of the time.
The "pro-life" forces were afforded their desired label only
21 percent of the time.
Some networks were less objective than
others. For instance, NBC used the "anti-abortion" label 17
times, while using the "pro-life" label just once. When it
came to abortion proponents, htough, NBC reporters dubbed them
"pro-choice" three times, "abortion rights" once,
and "family planning advocates" twice. No one at NBC used the
term "pro-abortion." CBS used "pro-life" labels most
often -- 38 percent of the time -- but still gave a great advantage to
abortion supporters, using positive, euphemistic terms to describe them
92 percent of the time.
Most abortion labels arose in three
1) Judicial Decisions:
On Nov. 11, CBS' Rita Braver informed viewers that a court ruling
against federal abortion funding would please "anti-abortion"
activists. Anchor Dan Rather characterized Roe vs. Wade as the Supreme
Court's 15 year old ruling on "abortion rights." In a Dec. 20
report by NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, Jack Fowler of the Ad Hoc Committee in
Defense of Life was captioned as an "anti-abortion activist."
But in Andrea Mitchell's Nov. 10 report, pro-abortion spokeswoman Dottie
Lamm was labeled simply as "wife of former governor" Richard
2) Abortion Demonstrators:
When pro-lifers taunted Democratic presidential candidate Michael
Dukakis on September 6, the networks presented the protestors as
"anti-abortion activists." CNN's Tom Mintier called the
demonstrators "pro-life," but only after a lead-in by anchor
Bernard Shaw labeled them "anti- abortion" three times. That
same night, NBC's Chris Wallace outlined the candidates' positions on
abortion. Bush, he said, "opposes abortion," while Dukakis is
The efforts of Operation Rescue
protestors did not go unnoticed by the networks, but again the labeling
favored abortion advocates. On October 4, NBC's Kenley Jones followed
anchor Tom Brokaw's introduction about the arrest of "anti-abortion
protestors" by remarking that "abortion rights advocates"
believed the demonstrators had little effect. CBS' James Hattori gave
perhaps the most even-handed report on October 29, referring to the two
sides as "pro-life" and "pro-choice."
3) Medical Developments:
ABC's George Strait remarked without irony that an abortifacient pill,
opposed by "anti-abortion groups," could be "a
lifesaver" in the Third World. On Sept. 15, CBS' Susan Spencer
characterized the debate over fetal research as a battle between
"science" and the "anti-abortion movement."
A controversial social issue such as
abortion demands even-handed treatment. The networks have proven
themselves incapable of this task. By their biased use of labels to
characterize the two sides of the issue, reporters have unfairly colored
the national debate on abortion.
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