A Toast for Totalitarians
CELEBRATING THE SANDINISTAS
The tenth anniversary of Nicaragua's
ill-fated Sandinista revolution coincided with the tenth anniversary of
favorable reporting on the communist government's intentions. On July
20, Washington Post reporters Julia Preston and Lee Hockstadter,
for example, saw Ortega's dictatorship not as the realization of
communist doctrine, but a temporary inconvenience caused by the Contra
war, driving the Sandinistas to "radicalize their revolution,
sharply curtailing civil liberties and starting down the path to
socialism. Since 1987, they have stepped back from their hardest
Preston's tilt was no surprise: before
joining the Post, Preston wrote for the Pacific News Service,
an arm of the far-left Institute for Policy Studies, and for the
pro-Castro North American Congress on Latin America.
ABC News correspondent Peter Collins also
trumpeted the Sandinista version of history: "They brought with
them Marxist ideas about spreading wealth and creating a new, unselfish
society. And in the first few years, they did manage to reduce
illiteracy, the infant death rate, and launched the biggest land reform
in Central America. But the Reagan Administration saw the Sandinistas as
a threat and forced them into a war with the U.S.- backed Contras."
J.D. Gannon of The Christian Science Monitor found the
Sandinistas have "avoided the systematic violent excesses of their
U.S.-supported neighbors...Nicaragua is the only country in Central
America which vigorously prosecutes some of its own soldiers and
Preston and Hockstadter heard only kind
words in Ortega's July 19 speech: "President Daniel Ortega struck a
new conciliatory tone and appealed for national 'serenity'...Today,
Ortega again reached out to his political opposition." But New
York Times reporter Mark Uhlig heard something else: "'UNO is
nothing...UNO is nothing'...The partisan rhyme, which was repeated
throughout the speech and shouted back by the audience at Mr. Ortega's
invitation, gave unusual prominence to the opposition coalition."
Washington Times reporter Peter
LaBarbera focused on a La Prensa poll showing 61 percent of
Nicaraguans would say no to six more years of Ortega. But CBS reporter
Doug Tunnell predicted on Sunday Morning July 23 that "if
there were to be an election right now, Ortega would win." Does
Nicaragua threaten the U.S.? No, they're more interested in
"feeding and caring for their own people, keeping their promise of
ten years ago, a revolution for the poor." He admitted "They
haven't done that yet," but insisted "that's their number one
Simon and Schuster has hired Robert Lindsey, West Coast Bureau Chief for
The New York Times for over a decade, to help former President
Ronald Reagan put together his memoirs. Lindsey wrote The Falcon and
the Snowman in 1979 and a book last year on the Mormon murders for
the same publisher. Reagan's book is expected sometime in 1991.
Riegle Service. Karolyn
Wallace, a KABC-TV general assignment reporter for the past two years,
is the new Press Secretary to Senator Don Riegle, a liberal Michigan
Democrat. Before traveling to Los Angeles, Wallace spent four years as a
reporter for WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan.
Wallace replaces Mike Russell, Riegle's
Press Secretary for nine years. Before coming to D.C. Russell worked as
assignment manager for then ABC owned WXYZ-TV in Detroit. A few months
ago Russell took the press job in the office of U.S. Representative Bill
Ford (D-Mich.). Like Wallace, he also once worked for Flint's WJRT.
A Progressive Position.
From 1972 to 1973 Robert Shapiro was a Fellow with the far-left
Institute for Policy Studies. Now 16 years later Shapiro is back with a
think tank. He's Vice President of the newly formed Progressive Policy
Institute, a group founded by former Democratic Leadership Council
officials. In between, Shapiro was Legislative Director for Senator
Patrick Moynihan and spent four years as an U.S. News & World
Report Associate Editor, a position he left last year to join the
Dukakis campaign as Deputy Issues Director.
NBC's New York Law. NBC
has appointed a new Executive Vice President and general counsel for the
company: Richard Cotton, a long-time Washington lawyer. Cotton served as
Executive Secretary to Carter's Health, Education and Welfare Secretary
Joseph Califano until 1979 when he jumped to the Department of Energy as
special counsel to Deputy Secretary John Sawhill.
From Cincinnati Post to
D.C. Post. Claudia Winkler, a publications editor for the
moderate to conservative American Enterprise Institute from 1975 to
1982, has been named chief editorial writer in Washington, D.C. for the
Scripps-Howard newspaper chain. After writing Cincinnati Post
editorials for two years, in 1985 the Scripps-Howard owned newspaper
promoted her to editorial page editor, a position she held until this
Cable News to Senate News.
Kristy Schantz, a writer for CNN's Headline News cable channel, has
joined former Associated Press reporter Bill Ritz on Senator Herbert
Kohl's staff. She's now working for Ritz as the Wisconsin Democrat's
Deputy Press Secretary. Schantz spent two years in Atlanta during which
time, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported, she helped
cover the Democratic National Convention.
Janet Cooke Award
The Supreme Court's Webster vs.
Reproductive Health Services decision has sent abortion proponents
and opponents scurrying to the grass roots in an effort to persuade
local constituencies of their cause. But pro-abortion forces, with huge
financial backing and a media sympathetic to their cause, now have cable
guru Ted Turner and his vast, supposedly objective telecommunications
empire behind their cause. Through Cable News Network, Headline News,
and Superstation TBS, Turner stands to make a significant impact on the
His new 30 minute documentary Abortion:
For Survival (which aired July 20, 22, and 23 on TBS) is the latest
of many Turner programs supporting abortion. Its blatantly pro-abortion
stance earns Turner the August Janet Cooke Award.
Turner has crafted a clever way to spread
his political views through his media outlets. By chairing the Better
World Society (BWS), Turner has aired more than 35 leftist and
pro-Soviet documentaries and commercials on TBS and CNN. Through
contractual agreements BWS produces these advocacy programs, which are
then aired free of charge on Turner networks. In cooperation with the
International Planned Parenthood Federation, BWS produced and TBS aired Increase
and Multiply? in 1987.
BWS is so committed to abortion that Zhou
Boping, Vice Chairman of the China Family Planning Association (CFPA),
sits on its Board of Directors. The CFPA enforces the regime's
one-child-per- family population control program which has led to more
than ten million forced abortions per year. Nevertheless, BWS awarded
CFPA one of its 1988 Better World Medals.
Abortion: For Survival is the
most recent BWS initiative to promote abortion. Explaining the need for
the program, Turner stated recently: "I am alarmed that forces
opposed to birth control are growing in strength, even while explosive
population growth overwhelms the developing world. Political efforts in
the United States to block family planning assistance, including legal
access to abortion, adversely affect vitally needed family planning and
population stabilization programs throughout the world."
The program was co-produced with Eleanor
Smeal's Fund for The Feminist Majority. The video opens with an
actual abortion. Once the minute-long procedure is completed, the woman
declares: "To lawmakers, I would like to say that there are
hundreds of thousands of women whose lives are being affected. It's not
a political thing, it's not a philosophical thing. It's women's
The abortion documentary viciously
attacks the pro-life movement: "In what could be termed a rash of
domestic terrorism, factions in the anti-abortion minority have turned
to tactics of increasing violence and harassment."
By twisting and distorting the facts, the
video also attempted to translate the goal of abortion on demand in
America to the world arena: "The World Health Organization
estimates that 430 million people do not have enough to eat and suffer
from malnutrition... Abortion is a necessity for millions of women
world-wide....In a civilized society we owe women the right to make this
decision safely. It is a matter of survival....We have forgotten that
this is a moral right."
BWS put together an hour-long discussion
to follow the documentary including abortion opponents Congressman
Robert Dornan and Nellie Gray, and abortion supporters Smeal and Planned
Parenthood's Faye Wattleton. But were Turner and BWS really interested
in an unbiased, balanced presentation in its panel follow-up? Turner
certainly wasn't, commenting: "We'll give the other bozos a chance
to talk back. They look like idiots anyway."
BWS hired liberal commentator Martin
Agronsky to moderate. He weighted the panel to the pro-abortion side,
repeatedly asking leading questions such as "If abortion and birth
control become illegal in more countries, and birth rates go up, how
will we handle the increased competition for finite resources?"
Between panel segments, actress Margot Kidder, in free ad time, told
television viewers BWS "believes that all women must have access to
all available methods for controlling their own fertility, including
To balance Abortion: For Survival,
Gray asked BWS to also air a pro-life documentary, either Eclipse of
Reason or its predecessor The Silent Scream. Gray's
request was denied, according to BWS Associate Director Victoria Markell
because "We had already determined the format of the program."
TBS publicist Kirsten White was not aware of the request but said that
TBS Executive Vice President Bob Levy, "in conjunction with Ted
Turner," would have the "final say so." White claimed:
"At this point, we feel that the panel discussion that is being
produced to follow it up will give ample opportunity to both sides to
discuss the issue."
TBS officials jockeyed to paint the
presentation as balanced through ads on TBS and CNN, but Turner admitted
at a recent shareholders meeting that his personal feelings play a role
in what is aired. Turner, who controls 61 percent of Turner Broadcasting
stock, proceeded to defeat a proposed resolution that would guarantee
"equitable" distribution of free airtime.
That's in keeping with Turner's "no
holds barred" attitude toward broadcasting and public opinion
making. It's also allowable in a free and democratic society. But while
Turner can propagandize, viewers can also refuse his propaganda. When
you view Abortion: For Survival, keep in mind the Better World
Society's goals. Remember that Turner and his networks may be the
greatest asset ever to the pro-abortion forces. Remember that you
control your television sets, not Turner.
CUOMO IN '92.
Last year the Newspaper Guild, the union representing over 25,000
reporters across the country, endorsed Michael Dukakis for President. At
this year's national convention in Albany the reporters made clear who
they favor for 1992. "Hundreds of newsmen shelved their
objectivity," began a June 21 United Press International story,
"and gave a standing ovation to New York Governor Mario Cuomo who
appeared dumbstruck when one reporter...shouted 'Mario in '92.'"
Another reporter repeated the phrase a bit later, "triggering yet
another outburst of applause."
Disappointed Guild President Charles Dale
introduced Cuomo: "I wish I had the permission to introduce him
today as the next President of United States, but I don't."
The reporters had a politically active
meeting. Media columnist Cliff Kincaid reported that the Guild
"passed a resolution supporting abortion rights and it joined the
ACLU and other groups in a brief attacking the Missouri law restricting
abortions recently upheld by the Supreme Court."
SMOKESCREEN ON CLEAN AIR.
When President Bush announced his Clean Air Program on July 21, CBS and
NBC presented liberal environmentalists as the only legitimate critics
of the plan. Saying "critics call it a bill right out of the Reagan
Administration," NBC's Jim Miklaszewski claimed environmentalists
thought Bush "had bowed to industry pressure to dilute it." On
CBS the same day, Lesley Stahl echoed that complaint: "The
President watered down his plan by compromising with industry on car
emissions, the major contributor to urban smog." Stahl added:
"But overall, the critics charge, the bill isn't strong enough to
achieve healthy air by the year 2000." The two stories included
seven comments from Congressmen. Only one defended Bush's plan.
In a column the same week, economics
writer Warren Brookes analyzed the estimated cost to industry: about
$400 billion over the next 20 years. But CBS and NBC never contemplated
the effects on American business and the inevitable loss of jobs: not
one industry spokesman got time to comment.
HOUSING HOKUM. "A
gloomy report today on housing for the nation's poor and
minorities," Dan Rather intoned on the July 10 CBS Evening News.
"It's a simple equation, and a recipe for disaster," reported
CBS correspondent Mark Phillips. "A study by a Washington research
group has shown that while in the 1970's, there were roughly enough
low-rent housing units for the poor, through the '80s, the number of
poor has increased by 25 percent while low rent units have dropped by 20
But according to page 10 of this
"gloomy report" by the liberal Center for Budget and Policy
Priorities, the number of low-rent units declined 19 percent since 1970,
not 1980. "It should be noted that the decline...was greatest
between 1970 and 1978," the report stated. When asked to explain
the discrepancy, Phillips told MediaWatch that
"the base points of the study were not identical," so "we
kind of fudged" the statistics to "stay honest to the general
CATERING TO NADER.
"Ralph Nader is a legend, perhaps the only universally recognized
symbol of pure honesty and clean energy left in a culture that, after
being shot through with greed, cynicism and weariness, is oddly proud of
its hardened self," Marc Fisher wrote in a fawning July 23 Washington
Post Magazine profile story. "Two decades after he slew
General Motors," the Post reporter gushed, Nader "is
a reminder of what we once hoped to be." Fisher made no effort to
contain his admiration. "He might as well be Moses, judging from
the reception he gets on the road," began one paragraph.
"Ralph Nader is a simple old- fashioned man," he declared a
bit later, adding, "he may be the only person in the country who
uses carbon paper."
"Now the nation's voice of honest
progress is looking homeward," Fisher began the last paragraph.
"Ralph Nader's America is a paradise lost, a nation that has taken
the simple, good ways of its past and poisoned them with greed and
Earlier Fisher explained that "if
Nader's work is his wife, reporters are his mistresses. Nader says
little of what he has accomplished could have happened without committed
newspeople who spread his message." Fisher should know.
THE L.A. REALITY DODGERS.
For a textbook example of the excesses of front-page "news
analysis," check the July 8 Los Angeles Times.
Correspondent Michael Parks announced that "With the same vigor and
vision with which he has set about reforming the Soviet Union, President
Mikhail S. Gorbachev is now embarked on reshaping Europe for the 21st
To Parks, this does not mean reshaping
Western Europe into Eastern Europe. In fact, Parks reported, "He
has no blueprint for the new Europe, no plan for what he calls 'the
common European home,' not even an agenda for negotiations beyond broad
topics such as disarmament, environmental protection, and economic
cooperation...What Gorbachev is offering is his own relentless
energy." In between sentences like these, Parks quoted paragraph
after paragraph from Kremlin officials and Gorbachev speeches. It begs
the question: Does repeating Soviet rhetoric without looking at Soviet
reality qualify as "analysis" -- or demonstrate the lack of
it? "Deeds, not words," some skeptics may demand, but for some
reporters, words alone will do.
After the gun turret on the USS Iowa exploded ABC and CBS repeatedly
talked with Admiral Gene LaRocque of the Center for Defense Information.
On the April 20 Good Morning America he called the 16-inch guns
antiquated, just like "the old-fashioned muskets in the
Revolutionary War." LaRocque was also featured on ABC's World
News Tonight and Nightline. The next morning, Admiral
LaRocque reversed himself on CBS This Morning, claiming the
Iowa's aging technology was "too complicated for new crews to
operate." The only consistency the networks seemed to care about
was LaRocque's criticism of the naval equipment.
On July 18, NBC's Fred Francis was the
only network correspondent to report what an official naval
investigation had determined: "The Navy has ruled out mechanical
malfunctions, accidental detonations, electrical flaws, and all other
technical reasons for the tragedy." Francis said the Navy found
"compelling circumstantial evidence that the horrific explosion was
an act of suicide." Not surprisingly, ABC and CBS ignored the
DUPE FOR KOOP. With
Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's stay in Washington at an end, ABC's
Dr. Tim Johnson produced a fawning review of his favorite enlightened
conservative. Throughout his July 14 20/20 story, Johnson
focused on Koop's clashes with the "far right." In fact,
Johnson refused to refer to conservatives who disapproved of Koop's
actions concerning AIDS and abortion as anything but "far
Concerning Koop's report on AIDS, which
encouraged the use of condoms to avoid the disease, "the reaction
from the far right was predictable. To this day, Dr. Koop is astounded
by the vehemence of the reaction." Johnson wondered "why
couldn't the far right see the distinction you were making between
[homosexuals] and the activity?" Koop's answer was that there is
"a true hatred of homosexuals" among conservatives.
STAHL'S ALL FOR TAXES. "Won't
it become necessary to raise taxes? Isn't that just a bald truth?"
CBS News White House correspondent Lesley Stahl posed those questions to
Office of Management and Budget Director Richard Darman on the July 23 Face
the Nation. "All we keep doing," Stahl complained,
"is cutting the domestic budget because taxes aren't being asked
Stahl's tax advocacy can't be dismissed
as mere goading by a sharp interviewer. Three days later, reporting the
"news" from the White House lawn, Stahl pushed the tax button
again. "Pressure for increased spending," Stahl charged on the
July 26 Evening News, leads to the "inevitable question:
will the President be forced to go to the public and say 'we have to pay
for what we owe?'" Guess what Stahl said "that means."
You guessed it: "taxes."
LEFTY LINDSEY. Lindsey
Gruson's July 21 New York Times report mourning the dim
prospects for collective farming in El Salvador cast the proposed
free-market reforms in a leftist light. Headlined "For the Peasants
of El Salvador, Promised Land Seems to Recede," Gruson reported
fears that "the oligarchy, a tiny group of intermarried families
that have traditionally run El Salvador as a personal profit center,
will be allowed to reimpose its iron-fisted control over the
Gruson's bias was also apparent in his
use of labels: "President Cristiani and extreme rightists blame
land redistribution for the drop in agricultural output." Land
owner Orlando de Sola is "a pillar of the oligarchy and one of the
country's most extreme rightists...who sometimes calls himself a
monarchist." Gruson pointed out that de Sola's estate is patrolled
by machine-gun carrying guards, maintaining "The brewing campaign
against the land program reflects the newfound confidence of the often
By contrast, communist guerrilla Joaquin
Villalobos, a spokesman for the often violent left, was introduced
simply as "the senior rebel commander" and the author of a
recent article in the American journal Foreign Policy.
GUNNING FOR TIME.
Trying to prove that the pen really is mightier than the sword, Time
magazine used its First Amendment rights to attack the Second Amendment.
The July 17 cover story, "7 Deadly Days," presented 464
pictures on 25 pages of Americans who died from gunshot wounds during
the week of May 1-7, along with two pages of interpretation.
"I remembered back in 1969 Life
magazine did a similar project with Vietnam," Senior Editor Terry
Zintl recalled during the July 11 Good Morning America,
"It brought home the human cost of that war, and I thought that
this would be a very good way of bringing home the human toll of
guns....I hope it'll get some other people angry about the number of gun
deaths." Time compared the gun deaths to the 48,700 deaths
annually from automobile accidents: all 'victims' of inanimate objects.
But were the 464 gun deaths all 'victims' of inanimate objects?
Well...no. In fact, 216, (about 47 percent) of the dead committed
suicide, a very deliberate, conscious act. Whose fault is this? Time
quoted the son of a woman who committed suicide, "Mom died
that day because of the totally irresponsible attitude that we Americans
have developed about gun use and ownership." Time agreed,
adding, "Every week, more American families are exposed to that
GOOD GRIEF AMERICA: NOT THE
BIBLE! Don't expect to hear or see much of the Bible on Good
Morning America, at least judging by the experience of conservative
syndicated columnist Cal Thomas. In June Thomas wrote a column on the
San Francisco "domestic partnership" law. GMA
producer Sue Hester read the piece (in which Thomas quoted one Bible
verse) and invited him to appear to discuss the new law conferring legal
status to homosexual couples. As Thomas was about to leave home for the
show, Hester called Thomas to say ABC had chosen someone else to appear.
Hester explained a more senior producer "was concerned you might
quote some Bible verses." Thomas called this producer, Rickie
Gaffney, who refused to deny Hester had quoted her accurately.
ROONEY TUNES. 60
Minutes commentator Andy Rooney thinks communism has gotten a bum
rap: "Communism got in with a bad crowd when it was young and never
had a fair chance," Rooney wrote in a June 26 Op-Ed piece for The
New York Times.
According to Rooney, "the original
communist philosophy may have been wrong, but they didn't plan it as a
totalitarian system... Communist governments have been dominated by men,
not Marxist ideals." Rooney explained that the "communist idea
of creating a society in which everyone does his best for the good of
everyone is appealing and fundamentally a more uplifting idea than
Rooney conceded that "communism's
only real weakness seems to be that it doesn't work," but Rooney
had less kind words to say about capitalism: "It seems sad and sort
of a spiritual defeat for us all that an economic system based on doing
it for No. 1 is more successful than one based on a noble ideal."
Unthreatened by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 threat, "We
will bury you," Rooney confidently contended, "Mr. Khrushchev
didn't mean anything more evil than that communism would be the winner
over capitalism in the competition to do the best for the most people in
the world." Besides, Rooney concluded, "They aren't burying
us; we're burying them. But it's no reason to gloat."
Speaking of Rooney, ever wonder why reporters select liberal groups as
sources? Look to the July/August Washington Journalism Review (WJR)
and its annual "Directory of Selected News Sources." Listed
under Magazines: The New Republic and The
Nation (but not National Review). Under Medical/Health
Care, National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned
Parenthood of America, Inc. (but not any pro-life groups).
the National Organization for Women and the Women's Legal Defense Fund
(but not Concerned Women for America). Under Special
Interest/Social Issues: Common Cause, the American Civil
Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, the Association of Community
Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the Children's Defense Fund,
Handgun Control Inc., the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People
for the American Way, SANE/FREEZE, and the Union of Concerned Scientists
(but only two conservative organizations, the National Rifle Association
and the National Right to Life Committee).
What criteria does WJR use to
choose its listings? Advertising Coordinator Lisa Jordan told MediaWatch
that WJR does its own research, takes referrals from its
editorial staff, and accepts some requests that are sent in. Jordan
explained inclusion is based on "how beneficial the source would be
for a working journalist." Why are there so few conservative
groups? Says Jordan, "A lot of the time we just don't have space
available." Not even for the Heritage Foundation, the largest
conservative think tank? "It's evidently not one we are familiar
Time Reporter Misleads
The Time - RNC Saga
Last month MediaWatch
awarded its Janet Cooke Award to Time magazine for its vicious,
double-barreled assault on Republican National Committee Chairman Lee
Atwater. An article titled "How to Spread a Smear" by Senior
Writer Margaret Carlson blamed Atwater for the now famous Foley memo.
Both the press and congressional Democrats charged the memorandum was a
smear on Foley's character because it compared his liberal voting record
to self-proclaimed gay representative Barney Frank. An accompanying
editorial insert box "Sorry Is Not Enough" called Atwater a
"muck maven" and demanded that President Bush "sack"
him. Senior Editor Terry Zintl told MediaWatch
that National Correspondent Larry Barrett penned the un-bylined
Since that time, MediaWatch
has learned more about the story. Its competitors, U.S. News
and Newsweek, were spending hours on the phone interviewing
both Atwater and RNC Chief of Staff Mary Matalin, but not one Time
reporter ever bothered to call the RNC to discuss the Foley memo. And
there's more: when asked if she had spoken with anyone at Time after
the June 19 article came out, Matalin told MediaWatch:
"Yes, both Lee and I spoke with Barrett who said 'Had I been there
[in Washington], this would never have happened.'" That's before
she knew Barrett had written the editorial box. "Barrett definitely
tried to lead Lee and me to believe he had nothing to do with the
articles. No question about it," Matalin stated.
Barrett declined to talk to MediaWatch
about the specifics of the editorial: "That's between them and me,
rather than them, and you, and me." Did he mislead Atwater and
Matalin? Barrett claimed: "When they complained to me later about
the lack of contact, I did tell them had I been there it would have been
different. I did not tell them that the tone of the finished product or
products would have been different."
That Atwater was never interviewed is
poor journalism. That Barrett would write an unsigned editorial and
subsequently try to convince his target he had nothing to do with it, is
unethical. So much for openness and honesty at Time.
Magazine Shows Which
Side It's On
NEWSPEAK ON ABORTION
In its first issue following the Supreme
Court's Webster decision, Newsweek took an in-depth look at
abortion -- from the pro-abortion side. In framing the issue, focusing
the problem, and choosing experts, Newsweek showed its clear
preference for the issues and language of legal abortion advocates.
1. Framing the Debate.
Reporter Ann McDaniel framed the abortion question as "a woman's
right to make one of the larger decisions of her life" and
"women who each year choose abortion as the best way to resolve
their personal dilemmas."
McDaniel labeled the two sides in the
abortion debate "conservatives and opponents of abortion" and
"women's rights activists," ignoring the "liberal"
label for the pro-abortion side. Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion
"chilled abortion advocates everywhere," but McDaniel left out
that those same words cheered pro-life advocates.
Ironically, in its boxed note on home
abortions, Newsweek slipped. "Do-it-yourself abortion is
hazardous to your health," read the headline. But whose health?
"Sadly," the article read, "many home remedies could
damage a fetus instead of kill it."
2. Focusing the Problem.
Throughout the article, the magazine's reporting matched the statements
by "pro-choice" sources. Planned Parenthood's Matty Bloom
decried "a two-tiered system where women with means can fly to
exercise their freedom of choice, whereas those without means are forced
into childbearing." Newsweek echoed those thoughts:
"With Webster the court has further limited the access of poor
people" to abortion. In other words, state strictures "will
have their greatest effect upon the poor, the young, and the
The article went on: "poor women
will again bear the brunt of such regulation," "pro-choice
advocates argue that banning public facilities is tantamount to
eliminating abortions for many poor or young women" and "the
young and the poor would e affected most adversely." So Newsweek
concluded, "the court's rulings could make it all but impossible
for poor women or teenagers to get abortions."
3. Use of Sources. Newsweek
devoted five pages to state-level restrictions on abortion.
Americans United for Life got two quotes; a spokesman for Florida's
Right to Life was quoted once, as was a "right-to-life
legislator." But those wanting abortion legal were quoted a total
of ten times, twice as often as the pro-life side.
SPIN DOCTOR OF CBS
On May 29, House Speaker Jim Wright was
about to resign. CBS asked correspondent Eric Engberg to give his
perspective on the evolving story. "Politics didn't just turn ugly.
It evolved from a nasty presidential campaign that featured the GOP's
famous Willie Horton ad," he explained. This deft transformation of
a liberal complaint into a statement of fact is typical of what viewers
can expect from Engberg.
analysts reviewed a year of Engberg's reports (July 1, 1988 to June 30,
1989), including 59 on the CBS Evening News. This review
demonstrates that whenever possible, Engberg adds a liberal spin to
major news events and files pieces on liberal agenda items no other
network finds important enough to cover. Here are some representative
examples of Engberg at work:
THE CAMPAIGN. The
majority of Engberg's reports in the last half of 1988 focused on the
"nasty" presidential campaign. Engberg regularly accused Vice
President George Bush of leveling personal attacks on Governor Michael
Dukakis. On August 8, for instance, he reported: "Bush continued to
pound Michael Dukakis personally, implying that the Democrats' wide lead
in the polls stems from ducking the issues."
Engberg also pounced on October 22, when
Bush disavowed an Illinois pamphlet suggesting criminals favored Dukakis,
asserting "It's one of the few times Bush has publicly voiced any
doubts about the pit-bull style Republican campaign. But he showed no
signs this week of deviating from a harsh personal-attack style."
Observing Bush on the stump during a November 4 campaign swing, Engberg
reported: "The headline in the pro-Bush Boston tabloid [Boston
Herald] told of bank overdrafts by the state covered by borrowing.
Bush, without taking note of the fact that the federal deficit is now
$155 billion, acted like an outraged prosecutor." "Bush's
read-all-about-it act with the anti-Duke headline may have pleased the
crowd," Engberg snidely concluded, "but the big draw was 7,000
free lunches handed out after he left."
IRAN-CONTRA. As the
Oliver North trial came to an end, Engberg preferred liberal lectures
over a balanced presentation of prosecution and defense. When the
verdict came in on May 4, he pieced together his lesson of Iran-Contra
with video of Reagan Administration figures: "Once secrecy is
embraced, rather than public debate and compromise, the freewheeling
covert operators can do as they wish because an invisible policy can't
be questioned...But secrecy leads to deception...Deception leads to
lies...Lies tear apart the rule of law...Could it happen again? Scholars
say yes, until Presidents accept the need to compromise with
Later, on a CBS News special report,
Engberg asked a second time: "Can it happen again? If secrecy and
misleading Congress worked once," Engberg began, letting Democrat
Clark Clifford finish the sentence "...There is no absolute
guarantee to keep it from happening again. It depends upon the
acceptance by a President of our system of laws."
A month earlier, his liberal perspective
on the world even led to factual inaccuracy. On April 6 he charged:
"George Bush as Vice President carried promises of U.S. aid to the
military dictatorship of Honduras," misleading viewers about a
government that's been elected democratically since 1981.
never produced a story based on a conservative agenda concern. On a few
occasions, however, Engberg filed stories on activities of liberal
organizations, focusing attention on subjects not considered newsworthy
by the other networks. On June 13, Engberg reported left-wing attacks on
corporate support for university research. "Corporate giving to
universities is more like give and take....to the point that critics
worry the pursuit of knowledge is losing out to the pursuit of
Engberg interviewed Leonard Minsky of the
Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest, who said "With
the advent of money and greed in the university, the ethics of Wall
Street have also invaded the university." Engberg's strange
conclusion: "Congress is also concerned about taxpayer money being
lost. After all, universities are kept afloat with federal dollars,
money that's supposed to benefit the public, not some bottom line."
This past Spring, the left-wing
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) advocated
adding money for low-income housing to the S&L bailout bill by
occupying federally owned housing. "If taxpayers are going to kick
in $40 billion, they argue, then the whole structure of financing homes
should be made to benefit the little guy, the idea behind savings and
loans in the first place," Engberg explained in an April 12 story.
Engberg ended the report: "As the Congress races to do something,
the process of writing the bill has turned into what one House staffer
calls chaos. Activists hope to take advantage of that and push for
changes in a system they claim locks the little guy out of the housing
On the eve of President Bush's first
State of the Union address February 9, Engberg again served as the CBS
spin doctor: "As George Bush presents his priorities tonight,
there's evidence in this poll and elsewhere that the nation will respond
to a very American idea: that their government by the people sometimes
must act boldly for the people." The CBS poll found support for the
"very American idea" of more government social spending: 55
percent in favor of government day care, 66 percent for more student
aid, and 71 percent for nursing home care.
To explain these liberal causes, Engberg
brought on liberal economist Robert Reischauer (then with the Brookings
Institution and now the Director of the Democratic majority's
Congressional Budget Office) and labor economist Audrey Freedman, who
said "I think the country's beginning to develop a sense of guilt
after eight years of saying 'I don't care. I feel good, and I don't
The journalist's only value is
credibility. Engberg cannot maintain his credibility if he continues to
promote liberal ideology as news reporting. An ongoing record of bias,
of turning liberal interpretations into facts and liberal causes into
feature stories, leading even to factual inaccuracy should bring into
question the credibility of this network correspondent.
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