Reporters Addicted to Tax Hikes
DESPERATE FOR DRUG MONEY
In his first televised speech to the
nation on September 5, President Bush announced his plan to fight a war
on drugs. To his Democratic opponents, the war is not over changing
people's behavior, it's over money, or the perceived lack of it. Two
Democrats leading their party on the issue, Senator Joe Biden and
Congressman Charles Rangel, immediately demanded taxes and spending be
increased. A fair number of reporters agreed.
"One Democratic veteran of the
budget wars insists taxes are the only answer," ABC's Cokie Roberts
preceded a matching comment from former Democratic Rep. James Jones on
the September 3 World News Sunday. Roberts noted that
"Republican strategists reject that argument," but, she
wondered, "how much can Peter be robbed to pay Paul?"
On the CBS Evening News the
night of Bush's address, correspondent Bob Schieffer reported:
"That's what you hear all over the country, that it will take more
than just good intentions or even first-class treatment
facilities...it's going to take money, a lot of it for a long
time." After interviewing Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn, who said
Bush's plan is "a real joke in terms of the resources that have
been offered," Schieffer concluded: "That's very much the
feeling here" on Capitol Hill. "Until Congress gets a lot more
detail on just how the President intends to pay for all this, there will
be considerable doubt here as to just how serious the administration
really is." The problem is "finding the money for everything
on the congressional agenda this year, and doing it without raising
taxes," Schieffer worried the next night.
On a CBS News special report following
the President's address, Lesley Stahl directly contradicted Bush.
"The President says the issue is not money, but in fact it is
money, and everything in this plan is constrained by the fact that one,
the President does not want to ask for new taxes, and two, we're working
under the Gramm-Rudman budget restrictions. There just isn't
In Time's September 11 issue,
Senior Editor George Church charged that "the amount he proposes to
spend is almost laughably inadequate." Church added: "The big
joke is that Bush proposes to do all this with pitifully little
money...it falls far, far short of what a true war on drugs would
But the fight is not really about a drug
war. As ABC's Brit Hume succinctly explained on September 6: "The
fight's not really about drug policy, it's about taxes. Congressional
Democrats want the President to agree to raising them so they can spend
them on the drug war, and a lot of other things."
A Washington Post profile story of Jo Franklin-Trout, producer
of the controversial pro-Palestinian documentary Days of Rage
carried by most PBS affiliates in early September, revealed she wrote
speeches briefly for Hubert Humphrey's 1968 presidential campaign.
Franklin-Trout signed onto the staff of the then titled MacNeil/Lehrer
Report in 1975, where she remained a producer until 1980.
More Than One on Prime Time.
Diane Sawyer, co-host of Prime Time Live, spent her days after
college as a Press Assistant in the Nixon White House. But Sawyer is not
the only politically experienced hand aboard ABC's new Thursday night
show. Until April, reportorial producer Sheila Hershow was an
investigator for the House Government Operations Sub-Committee on
Government Activities and Transportation chaired by liberal
Congresswoman Cardiss Collins (D-Illinois). From 1983 to 1986 Hershow
worked for CNN as a special assignment reporter.
Line. Still on Prime Time Live, ABC News President
Roone Arledge chose Nightline Executive Producer Rick Kaplan to
run the new program. To take over Nightline, Arledge chose
Dorrance Smith, Executive Producer of This Week with David Brinkley.
Before joining ABC News in 1977, Smith worked in President Gerald Ford's
White House advance office. Balancing things out, Nightline's
number two slot is filled by Senior Producer Deborah Leff, Director of
Public Affairs for the Federal Trade Commission during Carter's later
Three on the Hill. Two
liberal Senators and a liberal Representative have more than ideology in
common. They also have reporters as their new press Secretaries. Deborah
Matthews, now working for Senator Wyche Fowler (D-Georgia), was one of
CNN's original employees as an assignment editor back in 1980. She then
spent several years in similar positions with Atlanta's NBC affiliate
WXIA-TV, and ABC affiliate WSB-TV before switching to print. For the
past year she's been an Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Elizabeth Rose, now toiling for Senator
Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), was most recently the Dukakis
campaign's Wisconsin Press Secretary. Before joining Congressman Tom
Downey's office in 1987, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call
reported, Rose worked as an editorial associate for the Public
Congressman Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts)
has hired San Francisco Examiner Washington correspondent Mike
Connolly to handle press for his personal office and the Energy and
Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, chaired by
Markey. By the time Connolly ended an eight year stint with the Gannett
News Service in 1984, he had risen to White House correspondent.
Janet Cooke Award
The ABC's Of Day
David Blankenhorn, President of the
non-partisan Institute for American values, dispels one of the ever
growing day care crisis myths espoused by the media this way: "To
paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the traditional family
have been greatly exaggerated."
Karen Geers, Congressional Liaison
for the largest women's group in the U.S., Concerned Women for America,
has worked long hours in support of the Toddler Tax Credit bill. In her
view, it is the fairest proposal: "American families do not need a
new national child care program. They need tax relief."
The Heritage Foundation's Robert
Rector agrees. His ideas were the driving force behind the Toddler bill
sponsored by Reps. Clyde Holloway (R-LA) and Richard Schulze (R-PA). The
plan is similar to one backed by President Bush. Rector notes:
"Despite what the media have reported, the majority of Americans
are happy with their day care situation and support a Bush-type
If you're surprised to hear an
alternative exists to the Democratic party-backed Act for Better Child
Care (ABC), in a way you should be. By distorting and manipulating the
facts, the media have lobbied hard for the ABC bill, which would
establish a system of federally-subsidized, secular day care centers.
Consequently, other plans have been attacked and supporters of
To show just how far much of the media
have gone in support of ABC, look at the July 31 Good Morning
America (GMA) hour-long focus on the status of American
day care, the winner of this month's Janet Cooke Award. In addition to
co-host Joan Lunden, GMA brought on the following to perpetuate
several myths associated with day care in America:
-- T. Berry Brazelton, Pediatrician,
-- Rhae Perlman, star of NBC sitcom Cheers.
-- Representative Patricia Schroeder,
-- Gail Christopher, Director, Family
No alternative voice appeared at anytime
during the hour. Blankenhorn, Geers, and Rector all told MediaWatch
they would have been happy to appear if asked. In an effort to counter
the myths, MediaWatch asked these three
experts to react to the program. Here's a sampling of the Myths
furthered by GMA and the Facts on day care in America.
Myth #1: There's A Crisis In Day
Lunden: "I don't
know if [Americans] truly understand what a national crisis it is. Let's
talk about what are the dangers if things just stay status quo and we
don't do something... It's kind of become a political football now to
get this ball rolling as far as a national day care system...
"Earlier this year in a Harris poll,
parents with children under age six were asked how the system of child
care was working in America. Well, only 8 percent could say it was doing
"The opinion polls show that, I
think it's by three to one, people want some kind of regulations to come
in and try to solve this problems and yet we still don't have any kind
reality is that too many children spend everyday in overcrowded,
unlicensed homes where the television serves as teacher and where a
baby's cry often goes unanswered."
Fact #1: There Is No Crisis But
There Are Things We Can Do. If Rector had appeared on GMA,
he would have noted Lunden twisted the Harris poll numbers: "The
entire poll was misrepresented. The majority of the people in the Harris
poll were mildly or strongly satisfied with their day care. The media
have distorted perceptions. Other polls, as well, show in individual
circumstances, Americans are happy with their day care choice."
He would have pointed out that polls show
parents least prefer the secular day care centers that the ABC bill
would fund and expand. Less than one in ten American families say it is
their first choice. Nine of ten children are still cared for by parents,
relatives, or in other informal environments.
Myth #2: The Traditional Family
Is Largely Extinct.
two-thirds of all mothers spend their time working outside the home...
Nine million pre-schoolers [are] spending their days in care outside
their homes because their parents must go out to work."
Fact #2: The Traditional Family
Is Largely Intact. Though not a conservative, Blankenhorn would
have come down hard on the media: "The notion that traditional
families are anachronistic and no longer exist unfortunately has become
a governing theme in the media's coverage of family issue. There is a
trend towards maternal employment, but the idea that the traditional
family of homemaker mother and breadwinner father is extinct is simply
Blankenhorn and Rector would have Census
Bureau statistics to disprove Lunden's contention that two thirds of
mothers are working. The figures show only 29 percent of mothers with
pre-school age children work full-time. 17 percent work part-time and 54
percent do not work at all.
How did Lunden and GMA come up
with such outrageous statistics? Blankenhorn would have explained:
"They boost the number of 'working' families by merging full time
and part-time maternal employment despite basic differences between the
two types of employment, which relate directly to child rearing and
family." The statistics used also bring in non-child families and
newlyweds to distort the picture further.
Myth #3; The ABC Bill Is The
Lunden: "Of course,
it's something where the federal government is going to have to become
involved. Where is the ABC bill at this point?"
Schroeder: "This is
where people out there can really help us. You've got two things. You've
got the President saying he's just going to give a tax deduction to
people... It doesn't do anything about child care. [ABC} deals with the
child development, the quality, all the things we're talking about... We
ought to do both and even more than that. So if people will really start
helping us, talking to their elected leaders about this I think we can
see some action."
Fact #3: ABC Would Not Help. It
Would Hurt The Majority of American Families. The ABC bill
would mean increasing the tax burden on those who can least afford it.
Geers would have labeled it discriminatory: "Traditional families
are making the financial sacrifice of a second income. They make fifty
percent less than two income earners. Funding a national day care system
would force these families to pay for others. We support the Toddler Tax
bill because 9 out of 10 families would benefit. Polls show the majority
of mothers would rather be home if they could afford to. Tax relief,
especially for the lower income families, would allow them to stay at
home or choose the day care they wish."
Rector explained the Toddler Tax Credit
bill would abolish the current dependent care credit and offer parents
an all-purpose tax credit for day care for each child under age 7.
Whether a mother worked or wished to stay home raise her child, the
family could receive a tax break. The credit could be about $1,000 for
those earning up to $20,000, with the credit dropping gradually and
ending when the family's income hits $50,000.
asked GMA Publicist Cathy Rehl if anyone would talk about why
no alternative day care measure were featured. She responded: "We
have five minute segments. We don't have large chunks of time to be able
to do things." No producer responded to request.
At one point in the program, substitute
co-host Morton Dean remarked to Lunden that the child care debate is of
concern to all: "No matter what the income of a woman. And that's
something you have to be concerned about. You're a working mother with
young children." Lunden's response: "Absolutely, you
bet." Given Lunden's income, ABC might have to cut her $1 million
salary before she really understands what the average American family
goes through. Don't hold your breath in either case."
DOOM BUT NOT BOOM.
"They're starting the happen: plant closings, worker layoffs,"
reporter Ray Brady ominously began the July 27 CBS Evening News.
Brady droned on with more bad news, noting, "consumers have cut
back on their spending, another factor hitting the economy by slowing up
housing and driving autos into a slump." And what did these trends
reflect? A government report pegging GNP growth at a relatively low 1.7
But on August 29, the revised government
figure showed GNP actually grew at a healthy 2.7 percent clip. CBS
anchor Bob Schieffer read the news as the ninth story of the night. The
reasons behind the growth: consumer spending way up, new home sales up
over 14 percent. By September, auto sales had jumped 22 percent. Neither
Brady nor CBS bothered to tell viewers any of this.
NOT TOO FRANK.
Washington's pack journalism has turned into pack avoidance over the
Democrats' latest ethical embarrassment, the male-prostitution scandal
of Rep. Barney Frank. Broken wide open by The Washington Times
on August 25, most of the media provided only obligatory coverage in the
scandal's first few days, then let the matter drop.
The Washington Times has led the
pack in uncovering the seamy details in the day-to-day coverage.
Washington scandals usually rate in The Washington Post when
the subjects are conservative (a la Meese). Meanwhile, the Post,
the master of page one political warfare, could muster only seven
stories over the subsequent three weeks, most buried on inside pages.
Only four stories each appeared in the Los Angeles Times and The
New York Times, "the newspaper of record." In fact, the Post
and the Times, the networks' favorite papers, did not do
one news story on Frank in September until the 12th, when the
House ethics committee announced it would investigate.
The three networks were even less
interested, leaving a vacuum in evening news coverage from August 26 to
September 12, when CBS and NBC (but not ABC) mentioned the ethics
committee decision in brief anchor reads. But the prize goes to the
Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, which completely
ignored the Frank scandal until it finally ran a news story on September
NO GOOD NEWS IS NEWS.
When former White House Political Director Lyn Nofziger was convicted of
violating a federal ethics law and sentenced to prison in 1988, Time
found it newsworthy. When his conviction was overturned in June, Time
didn't. Only after an angry letter from Nofziger in which he asked,
"Shouldn't newsmagazines also have a code of ethics?," did Time
respond. In its July 31 Letters To the Editor section, Time
conceded, "The answer is yes. Mr. Nofziger's point is well taken,
and we apologize."
DISARMAMENT RACE. The
Defense Department recently experienced snafus in testing the B-2 Bomber
and Trident II missile, prompting Newsweek to gleefully
proclaim the score, "Pentagon: 0, Glasnost: 1." In an August
28 article, General Editor Elaine Salholz and Washington reporter
Douglas Waller, a former aide to Sen. William Proxmire, argued
"that distaste" for defense spending "has only
intensified with the spread of glasnost fever."
"Some day soon," they noted
wistfully, "budget deficit woes may converge with international
gamesmanship, putting a crimp in some of the best-loved programs of the
Reagan defense buildup." Bolstering their point with quotes from
liberals Gordon Adams of the Defense Budget Project and John Pike and
Thomas Longstreth of the Federation of American Scientists, the two
reporters asserted that troubled weapons may be too costly and
unnecessary since Gorbachev has "undercut the rationale for the
Only one unnamed Navy spokesman got an
opportunity to defend the Trident II. Newsweek concluded,
"The score at the weekend: two down for the Pentagon, one up for
BLAMING THE BIG TEDDY BEAR.
Why does the U.S. harbor such hostility toward the Soviet Union? Could
it be mass oppression, death camps, tanks in the streets of foreign
capitals? Naah. After consulting psychologists, Newsweek has
come up with a novel reason: "When a child observed at play
stumbles and hurts herself, she immediately accuses her teddy bear, as
if it were the bear who tripped her. If she is scolded for misbehaving,
she turns and scolds her doll. In infancy, we are just beginning to
develop a sense of where we are and where others begin. Unable to
tolerate the 'unpleasurable' parts of ourselves, we 'externalize' them
onto others. Although our attitudes mature as we age, we never quite
outgrow this self-versus-other mindset," Senior Writer David Gelman
explained in the August 28 edition.
Gelman suggests anti-communism is
something some people never outgrow. "Human beings do love to hate.
Having enemies fulfills an important human need, as evidenced by
children forming rival packs in a playground or nations stockpiling
nuclear weapons." te Gelman concluded: "In the long run,
indeed, the hope for a global glasnost may depend on how much the adults
who run nations can surrender their childhood need to hate." MediaWatch
did not make this up.
Psychologists could better investigate the journalistic split
personality at The Wall Street Journal: conservative editorial
page staff on one side of the brain, conventional liberal news reporters
on the other. Journal reporters held up their end of the
psychosis with Gerald Seib and Kenneth Bacon's August 17 report,
headlined "Right-Wing Zealots Still Wield Power Over Bush
Appointees" and "Nomination of Robert Fiske, Hailed by Most,
Is Victim of Conservative Activists."
Seib and Bacon wrote an entire story on
rejected Bush nominees based only on Fiske and the pro-life campaign
against Health and Human Services nominee Robert Fulton, who they
asserted was dropped "on grounds that were tenuous at best."
As chairman of the American Bar Association's judicial nominations
panel, Fiske helped sandbag conservative nominees by sending their names
to liberal lobbying groups before the ABA made recommendations.
The two reporters failed to recognize how
ironic it sounded to assert that "Mr. Fiske's experience is a case
study of how single-minded political activists can distort Washington's
nomination-and-confirmation process." The Journal
reporters made no mention of Robert Bork or of Bill Lucas, certainly no
less the victims of distorted confirmation processes, whose hardiest
defenders were--the Journal's editorial page staff.
DIRTY CLEAN AIR REPORTING.
The environment is one of the hottest topics on the liberal agenda, it's
also at the top of ABC's "American Agenda." On July 25, Ned
Potter traveled to Camel's Hump Mountain in Vermont to illustrate the
dire need for federal action. Potter asserted a comparison of pictures
from 1963 and the present revealed that "40 percent of the trees
were dead." Potter blamed the devastation on the fact "clouds
that blow in here carry sulfur, lead and more." In early August,
however, Yale University tree expert Tom Siccama told syndicated
columnist Warren Brookes the problem arose from a "very severe
drought followed by an especially killing winter" in 1962.
Potter also contended: "Doctors
think 50,000 Americans a year die prematurely because of the fumes that
cause acid rain." According to Brookes, "the 50,000 figure
came from one extreme theoretical estimate in an analysis where half the
experts estimated zero health effects" from the sulfur dioxide
emissions that create acid rain. Nonetheless, Potter insisted this
specious figure demonstrates "why a new Clean Air Bill is so
NETWORK. On August 1, CNN joined forces with
environmental extremists by airing Climate in Crisis. Narrated
by Headline News anchor Don Harrison, the show spent an hour presenting
apocalyptic visions of an uncertain future in an attempt to popularize
the increasingly discredited global warming theory. Harrison asserted:
"People across the world will be chased from places they call home
as the thermometer rises. Sea levels may climb more than three feet over
the next 50 or 60 years...that's enough to wipe out an entire
nation." Harrison claimed the Maldives are "the world's first
endangered nation" and threatened "a tidal wave of greenhouse
refugees." At the same time, however, Harrison warned of a
"rapid increase" in temperatures turning "farm into
Harrison proclaimed that "solutions
will require major shifts in economies and lifestyles...Citizens of
affluent nations like the United States are not likely to accept big
cuts in their standard of living. But if dramatic action isn't taken,
the crazy summer of '88 may seem moderate when compared to the turbulent
weather that's likely to follow." Forgotten were the record cold
temperatures in Alaska the following winter. Harrison urged viewers to
"push our leaders for policies that are more environmentally sound.
If we fail to act, there may be hell to pay in a hotter world."
Critics of global warming theory were completely absent from the
special. Summing up the show Harrison declared, "Global warming is
not a fact, just a widely held theory. The problem is if man waits for
proof, it may be too late."
MORE MEDIA $ FOR ABORTION. The
Cowles Media Foundation recently came under fire from Minnesota Citizens
Concerned for Life (MCCL). Cowles, which owns the Minneapolis Star
Tribune, was embarrassed by a brief story in the paper's July 15
edition in which "The Cowles Media Foundation and the Minneapolis Star
Tribune" jointly announced the foundation's half-million
dollar grant budget, dominated by a $200,000 grant to Planned
Jan Schwichtenberg, contributions
coordinator for the foundation, told the Twin Cities Reader
that the Star Tribune item was inaccurate, claiming the
foundation is totally separate from the newspaper. But MCCL points to
the Star Tribune's proclamation of support as indicative of the
liberal paper's pro-abortion bias.
Cowles joins the foundations of the New
York Times, Gannett Newspapers, and Times Mirror (owner of the Los
Angeles Times) in sending thousands of corporate dollars to Planned
Parenthood, and not to pro-life groups.
ELECTION SELECTION. If
you rely on the CBS Evening News, you'd never know about
Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's victory in a special election for the
seat of the late Democratic Congressman Claude Pepper. CBS felt the race
was important enough to justify a story by Eric Engberg three days
before the August 29 vote,but didn't mention the GOP victory when it
happened. But back in March, only CBS reported the Democratic victory to
fill the Republican House seat Dan Coats left to succeed Dan Quayle in
POLL WITH A GOAL. When Time
ran its July 17 story "7 Deadly Days" profiling 464
Americans killed by guns during one week in May, it included a poll for
readers to mail in. Time conducted a unscientific, non-random
sampling, loaded the questions and incorrectly identified the results.
Under the headline "A Vote for Regulation," Time
claimed 88 percent of readers who responded "support additional
regulation" of firearms. But Time only asked whether
readers supported waiting periods, registration and mandatory safety
training. Such policies cannot be called "additional
regulations," since these provisions are presently in effect in
many states, and the vast range of "additional regulation"
includes far more extreme measures (such as confiscation of all
firearms) that very few readers would support.
Time's sloppy and lopsided poll
sharply contrasts with the results of scientific polls. A study
commissioned by the Justice Department found that 78 percent of those
polled agreed that "Gun control laws affect only law-abiding
citizens, criminals will always be able to find guns." When asked
about the level of gun legislation, 13 percent thought there were too
many laws and 41 percent thought there were about the right amount. So
much for one of Time's current canned letters to readers
insisting that the objective of Time's "interpretive
reporting" is "to inform rather than to sway."
ABORTING COVERAGE. Since
the Supreme Court allowed states to limit abortions, media coverage of
special elections has emphasized winning pro-abortion candidates and
ignored winning pro-life candidates. On August 8, for example, when
Tricia Hunter, the pro-abortion candidate, won a Republican primary for
a state Assembly seat in California, the ABC, NBC, and CBS evening
newscasts reported the outcome. The Washington Post and New
York Times both ran stories and the USA Today headline
read: "California's win may be bellwether." The same day,
right to life Republican Albert Lipscomb won a state representative seat
in Alabama, but the networks, the Post and Times all
ignored his victory. Only USA Today even bothered to mention
the pro-lifer's victory in Alabama.
CHUNG'S CHOICES. On
Sunday, August 13, Evening News anchor Connie Chung announced
CBS would examine "alternatives to abortion." But in
presenting two alternatives, CBS managed to criticize pro-lifers both
times: first for impeding progress, then for being unrealistic.
The first story dealt with contraception.
Chung featured three pro-contraceptive spokesmen, including one from the
Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research project of pro-choice lobby
Planned Parenthood. Only one "anti-abortionist" spoke. Chung
never explained the chief objection of many pro-lifers to some kinds of
contraceptive devices: IUDs and many birth control pills induce early
abortion. Instead, Chung asserted "contraception should...reduce
the need for abortions," and complained "support for basic
contraceptive research, funded by the government, is drying up, partly
because of pressure from the pro-life lobby." The result, said
Chung, is that "experts believe that moving away from this research
causes the U.S. to lag further behind" other countries.
Correspondent Christine Negroni followed
with a report on a pro-life alternative, a home for unwed mothers, where
counselors encourage abstinence from sex until marriage. But Negroni was
quick to add: "Critics charge by teaching religion instead of birth
control, maternity homes...don't really address the problem." Which
"critic" did Negroni feature? Planned Parenthood's Faye
Left, Not Right
Faced with the recent resignation of
Michael Kinsley as Editor of The New Republic, Published Martin
Peretz considered replacing him with Newsweek's Washington
Bureau Chief, Evan Thomas. He could have been thinking of returning a
favor: a few years ago, Newsweek needed a Washington Bureau
Chief and hired Morton Kondracke from The New Republic. When Mother
Jones needed an Editor in 1987, they hired Douglas Foster, who
developed stories for 60 Minutes under the aegis of the
left-wing Center for Investigative reporting. The Progressive
has former CBS reporter and current National Public Radio (NPR)
commentator Daniel Schorr sitting on its editorial advisory board. When The
New Republic was looking for a regular columnist on "Science
and Society," they settled on NBC's Robert Bazell.
With this kind of networking in effect
between the mainstream media and liberal opinion magazines, does it
follow that more freelance articles by major journalists get published
in liberal rather than conservative opinion magazines?
Study has determined that news reporters overwhelmingly prefer
contributing to liberal opinion journals, writing 315 articles in the
last 42 months, compared to 22 in conservative ones. In other words,
reporters wrote 15 times as many articles for liberal magazines than
they did for conservative ones.
To capture the freelancing record, MediaWatch
analysts looked at three and a half years of magazine articles, from
January 1986 to the end of June 1989. On the liberal side, we examined The
New Republic, The Nation, the Progressive, Ms., Mother Jones, Dissent,
Foreign Policy, and The Washington Monthly. On the
conservative side, we looked for articles in National Review,
American Spectator, Commentary, Chronicles, Policy Review, The National
Interest, The Public Interest, and Human Events. We
counted only "objective" journalists -- reporters, editors,
producers, and news executives committed to the traditional journalistic
expectations of accuracy and balance.
The subjects of study were those from the
major television/radio networks (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS and National
Public Radio); news magazines (Time, Newsweek, and U.S.
News and World Report); major papers (The Washington Post, The
New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles
Times); and any other major paper in which two or more articles
appeared by its reporters (Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Chicago
Sun-Times and Tribune, Miami Herald, New York Post, and Newsday).
The media's favorite freelancing outlet
is The New Republic, which carried 112 articles by major
reporters, producers, or executives during the study period. Newsweek
writers led the pack with 32 articles, paced by Washington reporter
Timothy Noah's 13 contributions. All three networks were represented,
with articles by CBS News Executive Political Editor Martin Plissner and
producer Richard Cohen, ABC News White House correspondent Brit Hume,
and from NBC, then State Department Correspondent Anne Garrels (now with
NPR) and then-Chief Political Correspondent Ken Bode, not to mention 19
articles from Bazell.
Bazell hasn't been writing for the
liberal magazine solely for fun and profit, but because of his liberal
politics. When The New Republic endorsed aid to the Contras in
1986, Bazell wrote a letter to the editor in protest: "When I was
asked to write my first piece for The New Republic three years
ago, I was honored and proud to have of my work appear to a journal with
such a distinguished liberal tradition. When I read you editorial 'The
Case for the Contras' (March 24), I was angry and ashamed that my piece
on the space shuttle had appeared in the magazine."
The Washington Monthly, edited
by neoliberal Charles Peters, is also a popular haven for reporter
freelancing, with 98 articles by "objective' journalists. The board
of Contributing Editors is a regular roll call of reporters: Time
Senior Writer Walter Shapiro, Christian Science Monitor staff
writer Jonathan Rowe, U.S. News and World Report Associate
Editor Arthur Levine and Chicago correspondent Paul Glastris, and a
whole contingent from Newsweek; Senior Writer Jonathan Alter,
Contributing Editors Gregg Easterbrook and Joseph Nocera, and Washington
Correspondents Timothy Noah and Steven Waldman. Between them, these
reporters wrote 82 articles for the liberal magazine.
But the freelancing temptation didn't
stop at safely establishment liberal magazines. Another 73 articles
appeared in the three biggest far left periodicals. CNN Senior
Correspondent Stuart Loory has written for The Progressive.
Shortly after being fired by the network in 1988, CBS Producer Richard
Cohen wrote one of the 11 articles in Mother Jones.
Contributors to The Nation included a CNN producer (Linda
Hunt), an ABC News production associate (Richard Greenberg), a MacNeil/Lehrer
NewsHour reporter (Nancy Nichols), NPR's Foreign Editor (John
Dinges), and Newsday's National Security Correspondent (Roy
Gutman). Four current Washington Post reporters (Marc Fisher,
Douglas Farah, Walt Harrington, and Steven Mufson) have been published
in Mother Jones.
Dissent, "a critical
magazine for the concerned, inquisitive reader who views the world from
the democratic socialist position," ppublished eight articles by
reporters, four from Washington Post political correspondent
Thomas B. Edsall and two pieces by Charles Lane, Newsweek El
Salvador Bureau Chief. Ms. ran 16 stories.
Conservative opinion magazines, on the
other hand, rarely contains articles from reporters or executives. Of
the 22 articles that appeared from 1986 through mid-1989, The
American Spectator led with 11, with three articles each from ABC's
Brit Hume, ABC Radio reporter Robert Kaplan, and John Podhoretz, a
contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report (now a Washington
Times Assistant Managing Editor). Time Senior Editor
George Russell wrote five articles or book reviews for Commentary. National
Review ran only three articles, from a Los Angeles Times
news editor (Robert Knight), a former Time military
correspondent (David Halevy), and a former President of CBS News (Fred
Friendly). Two articles appeared in The Public Interest and one
in The National Interest. In three and a half years, not one
news reporter for a major media outlet wrote anything for Human
Events, Chronicles or Policy Review.
Journalists should certainly be allowed
to escape the constraints of objective news reporting and write for the
opinion magazines they enjoy. But this overwhelming preference for
liberal journals, this "freelance gap," offers quite a telling
insight into the personal biases that color the news.
journalists follow a slightly different pattern:
Critics of theater, movies, books and
other subjects preferred writing articles for liberal magazines (48)
over conservative ones (22) by more than 2 to 1. The New Republic
has published 13 columns by Newsweek art critic Mark Stevens,
in addition to articles by Time art critic Robert Hughes, USA
Today book editor Robert Wilson, Wall Street Journal
television critic Martha Bayles, and from The New York Times,
drama critic Frank Rich and film critic Jane Maslin.
John Leonard, the New York
magazine critic who regularly appears on CBS Sunday Morning,
wrote nine pieces for Ms. and eight articles for The Nation.
James Lardner, a former drama critic for The Washington Post,
wrote 12 reviews for The Nation. Conservative magazines were
graced only by Wall Street Journal book editor David Brooks
(17) and Washington Times television critic Richard Marin (5).
Conservative magazines could find few
reports to contribute articles, but plenty of editorial writers made it
into print. Wall Street Journal and Washington Times
opinion writers were most frequently represented in the 52 such pieces
published. Just 20 articles by editorial writers appeared in liberal
magazines. Conservatives in the media stick to working for the editorial
page. But with 315 pieces in liberal magazines by reporters, liberals
Your Tax Dollars at
Work for PBS
CUBA'S LAPDOG LAPHAM.
PBS generated an angry response from the public when it decided to
broadcast the unabashedly pro-Palestinian Days of Rage. PBS has
not learned from its mistake, however, as can be seen in the choice to
air "America's Century," a six-part series written
and narrated by Harper's Editor Lewis Lapham. The expressed
purpose of the series is to chart America's rise as a superpower, and
the 1962 Cuban missile crisis is one the issues examined when the series
airs this fall.
Among the "experts" appearing
during the show, according to a Los Angeles Times article, is
leftist author Noam Chomsky who declares that "it's taken for
granted that we have a right to ring them [the USSR] with missiles but
they don't have a right to put a few, a few missiles in Cuba."
Lapham agrees with this Soviet apologia and continues "the U.S.
staked the life of the human race. The risk...expressed the arrogance of
power." Hard as it is to believe, Lapham claims other parts of the
series will be even more controversial.
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe