Media Promote Liberal Anti-Tax Cut Position
Crying Over Capital Gains
Democratic leaders were not the only ones
dismayed when the U.S. House passed a revenue spurring capital gains
rate reduction similar to what President Bush promised voters. So were
several major media figures.
A couple of weeks before the September 28
vote, on NBC's Meet the Press, Garrick Utley asked Wall
Street Journal Washington Bureau Chief Al Hunt if the Democrats'
class warfare theme had any appeal. Hunt summarized the Democratic
leadership's hope: "I think fairness is still a big, big issue. And
if the Democrats can make the issue that the rich are getting theirs and
you're not getting yours... I think it has some resonance out
there." That evening on the Nightly News, the liberal
rhetoric became Utley's: "The debate is not just about economics,
it's about fairness."
During the September 25 CBS Evening
News story, economics correspondent Ray Brady wondered: "So
would this tax cut, as some charge, really add up to a free lunch for
America's fat cats, pushing up the already huge federal budget
deficit?" For the answer, Brady consulted Bob McIntyre of the
notorious soak-the-rich lobby Citizens for Tax Justice. "A better
solution, say many Democrats," Brady concluded after citing figures
alleging the cut would benefit only the rich, "would be to raise
rates for some high-bracket taxpayers, and then bring back the
individual retirement account, the IRA where everybody gets a tax for
CBS anchor Dan Rather defined the issue
on liberal terms the night it garnered House approval, using "for
the wealthy" as a suffix for the capital gains cut three times:
"Good evening. A political showdown vote in the U.S. House of
Representatives today on economics. A vote to support President Bush's
idea to cut the capital gains tax for the wealthy. Sixty-four Democrats
bucked their own new House leaders, abandoned them, and joined the
Republicans to support the measure. Mr. Bush says that cutting the
capital gains tax for the wealthy will boost the economy and create
jobs. Opponents don't believe that, and they call it simply a tax
giveaway for the wealthy.
Time magazine was livid,
headlining its October 9 "news story": "Bill Me Later:
Once Again, Washington Chooses Voodoo Economics Over
Responsibility." Senior Writer George J. Church bitterly complained
that "once again," Washington had "lost itself in a
politically irresistible orgy of tax reduction."
Newsweek's headline, "The
Class Warfare Fizzles," reflected what really happened, but
reporter Eleanor Clift couldn't resist a dig at conservative economics:
"Budget director Richard Darman's dream of a far-reaching deal to
solve the deficit crisis is becoming a nightmare as his President leads
the charge in creating a tax break rather than confront a tax
A Vance Degree in Journalism.
The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago
has hired a new dean: Michael Janeway, a Special Assistant to Secretary
of State Cyrus Vance during the Carter Administration. Janeway's been
Executive Editor of Houghton Mifflin, the book publishing company, since
he left the Boston Globe in 1986. Janeway was Editor of the
Globe Magazine from 1978 until becoming Editor of the entire paper
Good Night Boston. Paula
Lyons, consumer affairs reporter since 1979 for Boston ABC affiliate
WCVB-TV, began the same role with Good Morning America in
mid-September. Between 1974 and 1978 Lyons worked in several jobs for
the city of Boston, serving as Press Secretary to Democratic Mayor Kevin
White, Assistant Director of the Office of Federal Relations. Lyons will
contribute a story at least once a week for ABC's morning show.
Hart's Beats. Last year
Virginia (Ginny)Terzano did political research for the CBS News election
unit. Her qualifications: a member of Senator Gary Hart's staff since
1983, she served as Deputy Press Secretary for his presidential campaign
until it self-destructed. Then Terzano put in a stint with Senator Al
Gore's presidential effort. This summer she went back to openly
promoting liberal politicians, becoming Press Secretary of the
Democratic National Committee.
Kissinger On Board. At
its monthly meeting in September, the CBS Inc. Board of Directors
elected Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State for Presidents Nixon and
Ford, to fill a newly created 15th seat. Kissinger isn't the only
presidential advisor directing CBS policy. Harold Brown, Carter's
Secretary of Defense, has been on the board since 1981.
Wilkins Off Board. Roger
Wilkins, a Senior Fellow at the far-left Institute for Policy Studies
and a Senior Adviser to Jesse Jackson's 1984 campaign, has been forced
to relinquish his position on the Pulitzer Prize Board after serving the
maximum limit of nine years. Wilkins was on the editorial boards of The
New York Times and Washington Post in the 1970's. During
the 1987-88 awards cycle, Wilkins served as Chairman of the Pulitzer
Working Again. In
February, ABC News closed the Washington News Information office,
putting Joyce Kravitz, its Director and former Carter White house and
Democratic Party press aide, out of a job. WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate in
Washington, D.C., put her to work again in August as Director of Public
Knight Move. Richard
Capen Jr., a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and later Assistant
to the Secretary of Defense for legislative affairs during President
Nixon's first three years, is Knight-Ridder's new Vice Chairman for
business information and cable television operations. Since 1983, Capen
has been published of the Knight-Ridder owned Miami Herald.
Janet Cooke Award
CBS, CNN, NBC
Staging news events has become a fact of
political life in Washington. You see it every day as advocacy groups
clamor to get media attention by calling press conferences. You see it
in the halls of Congress from Senators and Congressmen. The President
routinely stages events to get out his political message.
The media usually respond by covering the
event, but question the positions articulated. The diversity of views
that comes from this "devil's advocate mentality" may not be a
bad thing for the domestic policy debate -- unless the mentality breaks
And break down it did when a contingent
of Hollywood celebrities and radical political advocates came to
Washington for the October 7 Housing Now! march to demand greater
federal funding for homeless Americans. Many media outlets abandoned the
established norms of reporting to trumpet a panorama of factual
distortions and at times outright lies. Cases in point -- the October
Janet Cooke Award recipients: CBS This Morning, CNN's PrimeNews,
and NBC's Today. The three programs allowed the propaganda of
Housing Now! to go unchallenged.
On CBS This Morning the day
before the march, co-host Kathleen Sullivan interviewed singer Dionne
Warwick and march organizer Carol Fennelley. She asked: "Dionne,
what is the best way to take care of the homeless?" and "Carol
I understand that the purpose of this march specifically is the decry
the housing situation... Let's say from the beginning of the Reagan
Administration in 1980, how was the housing situation different than it
Fennelley responded to Sullivan's
softball question: "Well, over the last eight years, 75 to 80
percent, depending upon whose figures you use, of the housing budget has
been decreased or cut. And when you take that much out of any budget,
you are bound to see dramatic and devastating effects, which is what we
are seeing right now. It's estimated that by the year 2003, if current
housing trends continue, there will be 18.7 million homeless people in
NBC Today co-host Jane Pauley
repeated the same myth in an interview with organizers Mitch Snyder and
Barry Zigas: "March organizers say it will take $25 billion dollars
to build housing for the homeless and for the working poor, money they
say was taken out of the housing budget during the Reagan
On CNN's October 7 PrimeNews,
Candy Crowley cited yet another distortion homeless advocates tout as
fact almost daily. Reporting on the day's march, Crowley concluded:
"Spring-like temperatures on a Fall day made for a carnival-like
atmosphere, but an occasional chilly breeze forewarned that winter is on
the way and three million Americans have no place to call home."
Anchor David French, in an interview with
Snyder, not only championed the activists' statistics, but also the
spirit of the march: "The last President, Mr. Reagan, who I guess
helped you get the shelter, your fabulous shelter here two blocks from
the Capitol, he still said that in effect many homeless persons are that
way by choice, that many of them are retarded or otherwise on the street
for reasons like that." French sighed, "That's the attitude
you've been fighting, isn't it?"
Snyder responded: "Those are the
stereotypes and the images that bear no relationship to reality...of
millions of human being living and dying on the streets... The reality
is you've got to have a lot of money in America today to afford a decent
place to live, and increasing numbers of Americans can't, and all of
that's a consequence of $25 billion dollars a year just sliced out of
the housing budget."
The networks denied access to any
Administration or think tank officials to counter Snyder. Sullivan
briefly referred to a Heritage Foundation report on the homeless
situation, but it was quickly dismissed. It is not as if there is a
shortage of experts or information countering Housing Now! claims. On
October 5, columnist Warren Brookes corrected march participants'
hysterical claim of three million homeless. He cited four major studies
from the National Academy of Sciences, the Urban Institute, the General
Accounting Office, and Harvard's Richard Freeman. No study, as late as
1988, put the number higher than 650,000.
Brookes also refuted the radical
activists' allegations that Reagan had cut $25 billion from the housing
budget. Brookes noted "Budget Authority" to build future
housing was cut because of the massive commitment the U.S. made in the
1970's -- over $250 billion worth. Most of those units actually came on
line in the 1980's. From 1982 through 1988, Brookes notes, an average of
19,000 units came on line. That compares to just average of 15,000
during the Carter Years. Brookes took a look at actual federal budget
outlays. Since 1980, "Housing Assistance" has risen 172
percent, from just under $6 billion to over $15 billion a year. Actual
HUD spending increased from $12.7 billion in 1980 to $20.4 billion in
1989, nearly double the inflation rate.
Heritage Foundation experts could have
explained that and more. They might have also pointed to rent control
and urban redevelopment projects that have actually cut the supply of
low-income housing. The liberal Urban Institute (UI) cited other reasons
for homelessness: drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, and
serious criminal behavior. A UI study found that 71 percent of the
homeless are afflicted with one or more of these problems.
The week before the march, the Media
Research Center (MRC) sent out a letter to major press outlets urging
"an equal forum" for conservative-minded alternatives to the
increased federal spending demanded by Housing Now! The letter suggested
the names of several housing experts to interview. While the letter was
sent to 28 producers and executives (including 7 at CBS News, 5 at CNN,
and 6 at NBC), just one producer, from Mutual Broadcasting's Jim
Bohannon Show, contacted the MRC for help in finding a way to
balance their presentation of the issue.
Bohannon provided one of the few balanced
discussion by major media outlets. (Another: An October 16 U.S. News
and World Report article which explained that the disintegration of
the private, unsubsidized rental market: actually caused the housing
crunch. Associate Editor David Whitman also pointed out: (1) federal
housing expenditures have actually risen, and (2) drug abuse, mental
illness, and alcoholism are major factors in homelessness that advocates
refuse to talk about.) It seems most in the media did not mind helping
legitimize a left-wing disinformation campaign by serving as a willing
conduit for a staged news event.
CBS has proven it doesn't have to live by its own rules. In an
attention-grabbing September 27 front page story, New York Post charged
that the network aired fake Afghan footage in 1985. Asked for comment,
CBS News stonewalled all inquiries for an entire week, claiming it
needed to locate freelance cameraman Mike Hoover, who was filming caves
in New Zealand. Even when Hoover denied he staged scenes on October 4,
CBS News President David Burke refused to take calls, releasing only an
internal memo to network staff. What hypocrisy. CBS News would never
tolerate stonewalling like this from a President or Congressman or
WNBC-TV anchor and Yesterday, Today,
and Tomorrow co-host Chuck Scarborough summed it up best on CNN's
Larry King Live September 29: "I can't for the life of me
understand why CBS has a policy of not commenting on stories. And of all
organizations, I think it shows a particular arrogance to assume that
your organization is immune from criticism and you ought not respond.
We're in the business of soliciting response."
SCHIEFFER SHAPES THE AGENDA.
The Bush Administration's reluctance to rush into an arms agreement
"perplexes some arms control experts," CBS Evening News
anchor Bob Schieffer worried on September 16. Which experts? The liberal
ones. Former Ambassador Paul Warnke, Brookings Institution analyst Ed
Hewett, and Jack Mendelssohn of the Arms Control Association. "Even
some on the Republican right who were the most dubious about
Soviet-American cooperation are now suggesting a new superpower summit
to talk arms reduction," Schieffer reported.
Schieffer's only example from the
Republican right was former Reagan official Ken Adelman. But a clip then
showed Adelman saying something quite different than what Schieffer
asserted. "It can be a getting-to-know-you summit," Adelman
suggested. Being called an advocate of arms-control summitry is
"absolutely wrong," he told MediaWatch.
In fact, Adelman's recent book, The Great Universal Embrace: Arms
Summitry, A Skeptic's Account, specifically says that summits,
which thrust the President into being the chief arms negotiator, can be
Last year Congress implemented a catastrophic health care plan paid for
through a surtax on middle and high income senior citizens. In effect,
the plan penalized those who prudently planned ahead and purchased their
own long-term care insurance. But that's not how ABC anchor Peter
Jennings saw it. He presumed everything one earns belongs to the
government. After a September 18 "American Agenda" review of
the subject, Jennings added his opinion, complaining to viewers that
"because 5 million elderly people are angry, as many as 18 million
others may suffer."
OUT TO LUNCH. A
September 7 Los Angeles Times story on Vice President Quayle's
views on SDI caused a small uproar. In a lunch with Times
editors and reporters in Washington, Quayle said the concept of an
"impenetrable shield that was going to be completely leakproof...in
the semantics of let's say, political jargon, that that was acceptable.
But it clearly was stretching the capability of a strategic defense
The front-page Times account,
however, carried the headline "'Star Wars' Goal Cut, Quayle
Says" with the sub-headline "Defense Role to Be Limited; Calls
Reagan's Plan 'Political Jargon.'" The article began:
"Conceding that former President Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' plan
was only 'political jargon,'" Quayle said SDI had been revised into
a program "without the pretense of being able to deflect a massive
Soviet first strike." Times staff writer Norman Kempster also
reported that "The Vice President was once a staunch supporter of
the proposal, officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative...But
Quayle admitted Wednesday that the plan was never realistic."
Thus, Kempster inaccurately inferred that
Quayle was no longer an SDI supporter, and manufactured Quayle
"admissions" out of thin air. Using the term "never
realistic" illustrates the laughing-at-the-Wright-Brothers approach
SDI opponents apply to the program. While both the Reagan and Bush
Administrations have honed in on a new "Brilliant Pebbles"
defense, the shield concept remains, as White House spokesman Marlin
Fitzwater explained, "the theoretical concept under which the SDI
CBS & THE NATION'S
EXPERT. "If the United States and the Soviet Union must
compete, let us do so not in an arms race that threatens everyone and
benefits no one but on a compassion race to improve the lives of our
respective peoples and those less developed countries. Let us compete to
demonstrate in deeds, rather than provocative ideological assertions,
which is the more caring system, American democratic capitalism or the
Soviet socialism with a human face of which Gorbachev speaks,"
wrote Princeton professor Stephen Cohen in one of his "Sovieticus"
columns for The Nation on October, 1988.
On September 25, 1989, with rumors of a
Soviet-American summit swirling around Washington, Evening News
anchor Dan Rather turned to the CBS News "consultant on Soviet
affairs," Stephen Cohen. Cohen had more glowing words for
Gorbachev, claiming he's "made 75 to 80 percent of the major
concessions to keep the [arms control] process going." Referring to
Bush's proposal on chemical weaponry, Cohen complained "It'll help,
but I don't think it's enough. For almost five years, Gorbachev has
called for an American President who would be a partner in getting rid
of these armaments." Maybe if CBS gleaned consultants from pages
other than those of far-left magazines like The Nation, the
network would be able to provide viewers with a more balanced
FAKE NAME, TO BOOT. For
years William Boot, identified only as a "contributing
editor," wrote the "Capital Letter" column and other
stories for the Columbia Journalism Review. In a November/
December 1986 article Boot complained that President Reagan "plays
fast and loose with the facts" as "the White House press
conference has been converted by Ronald Reagan into a forum for
inaccuracy, distortion, and falsehood." Boot saw the Iran/Contra
affair as "a load, jarring echo of Watergate -- a case in which
White House officials saw fit to break the law or bend the Constitution
because, in their view, the end justified the means."
So what's the story here? William Boot is
not really William Boot because there is no William Boot. The
September/October issue revealed that's just the pen name for
Christopher Hanson, then a State Department reporter for Reuters. Hanson
has recently become the Washington correspondent for the Seattle
FOOD FIGHT. The
Washington Post recently proved it's even incapable of preventing
its liberal bias from seeping into its special service sections. Take
for example, an October 4 story in the Wednesday "Food" pages
headlined "Who's Minding the Store? Everybody But Uncle Sam Seems
to Be Setting Food Policy." The piece served as a telling
demonstration of the company-town Big Government mindset that permeates
the Post. "Someone is directing food safety and nutrition
policy in this country, and it doesn't seem to be the federal
government," concerned Post staff writer Carole Sugarman
whined. "Increasingly, supermarkets, food companies, states and
private organizations appear to be running the show," she worried.
Sugarman concluded: "As for the
future of private intervention into federal policymaking, an FDA
official who asked not to be identified said he believes it will get
worse so long as the federal government doesn't play a more active
role." The voluntary pursuit of consumer safeguards by private
businesses intrudes on the federal government's duties? Consumer
Reports, Underwriters Laboratory--call your office.
KHMER RUSE. Those who
doubt that truth is a rare commodity in media coverage of Southeast Asia
need only look at reports of the Vietnamese pullout from Cambodia. On
September 24, ABC reporter Mark Litke summed up the Vietnamese puppet
government as "popular and pragmatic."
Ignoring the fact that Cambodia was
invaded by Vietnam, which remains among the most repressive Marxist
dictatorships in the world, Litke declared that "though Cambodia is
still desperately poor, a thriving free market economy here has breathed
new life into this shattered land."
Dan Rather's September 25 assessment was
even stranger. "Like the Soviet Union in Afghanistan," Rather
stated, "communist Vietnam failed in its effort to set up a puppet
regime in Cambodia." Rather should look more closely at who's ally
in still in Kabul. CBS reporter Bob Simon's report was a little closer
to the mark. "So glad you could come, so glad you have to go.
Flowers and fond farewells today," Simon wistfully mused, "as
the Vietnamese drove away from their dream of an Indochinese
EARTH DEARTH. The
alarmist tone of environmental reporting has reached a fever pitch as
reporters increasingly buy into the bizarre theories of environmental
extremists. On NBC's September 14 "Assignment Earth" segment,
Tom Brokaw described Africa as "The Crowded Continent...a vast
space filling up with people. Too many people." NBC forgot Asia
which, excluding Russia, holds approximately 3 billion people to
Africa's 600 million. Robin Lloyd saw Marxist Zimbabwe's contraception
program as Africa's ideal model and declared: "For Africa, the
battle to control population growth is a high-risk game with nothing
less than the survival of the continent in the 21st century at
stake." Lloyd didn't explore the possibility that some African
nations are starving because the Marxists governing them have ruined
FREE SCOTT STANLEY. It
should be the next rallying cry for free press supporters of any stripe.
Scott Stanley, a former editor of Conservative Digest and now
editor-in-chief of the American Press International wire service, was
arrested October 3 upon his arrival at the airport in Windhoek, the
capital of the southwest African nation of Namibia. Stanley was later
released from custody and placed under house arrest. He will not be
allowed to leave the country until he has been tried for
"denigration" of election committee head Brian O'Linn.
Stanley traveled to Namibia to testify
for two Namibian newspapers on trial for publishing an article of his.
In the July article, Stanley had quoted O'Linn as saying he had been a
long-time supporter of the dominant Marxist South West Africa People's
Organization (SWAPO) and that his "special relationship" with
the "people's liberation" movement would continue.
"Obviously, they are trying to make a point...that nobody better
criticize the election commission," said Henry Mark Holzer,
Stanley's American attorney. It will be interesting to see how many of
those who regularly champion free speech come out against Namibian
injustice and express their support for Stanley.
GIVING US THE LIBERAL BUSINESS.
It's not just political reporters that bring liberal views to the job. MediaWatch
recently came across a survey that confirmed business
reporters are just as liberal. Just before the 1988 presidential
primaries began, The Journalist and Financial Reporting
newsletter surveyed 151 business reporters for over 30 publications
ranging from the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, New
York Times, Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer to Money,
Fortune, Business Week, Inc. and Barron's.
The New York-based newsletter found 54
percent identified themselves as Democrats, barely 10 percent as
Republicans. Over 76 percent reported they opposed school prayer and 75
percent were against aid to the Contras, but an overwhelming 86 percent
favored the "right to an abortion." Asked who they wish to see
become President, 27 percent named liberal New York Governor Mario Cuomo,
trailed by Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) with 20 percent and Senator Paul
Simon (D-Ill) with nine percent. Senator Bob Dole was the most popular
Republican, backed by just eight percent. At 44 percent, conservative
Pat Robertson topped the list of those the reporters would "least
like to see as President," followed by 19 percent who must be very
upset now: they named George Bush.
About 52 percent evaluated President
Reagan's performance as "poor" or "below average."
Only 16.5 percent gave him an "excellent" or "good"
and the remaining 19 percent considered him "average." No
wonder they want the public to think Reaganomics failed.
Update on Past Cooke
BARRETT PROMOTED. The
July Award went to Time magazine for its coverage of the RNC
memo on House Speaker Tom Foley. An unbylined editorial box called RNC
Chairman Lee Atwater a "muck maven" and demanded that
President Bush "sack" Atwater in light of the incident.
Initially, Barrett misled the RNC by claiming he had nothing to do with
the coverage of the memo. Senior Editor Terry Zintl later admitted to MediaWatch
that Barrett penned the editorial box. Barrett's career hasn't been hurt
by his disingenuous behavior. In September, Barrett was promoted to
Deputy Bureau Chief in Washington.
THERE HE GOES AGAIN. NBC
reporter Fred Briggs, winner of June's Janet Cooke Award for his
promotion of the Canadian national health system, took another shot at
it on August 8. Briggs, who told MediaWatch he
considered the Canadian system "very civilized," built the
report around the "unthinkable" conversion of none other than
Chrysler chief Lee Iacocca (never one to resist the government taking
business expenses off his hands).
Briggs again recommended the Canadian
health care system: "It keeps costs down and covers everyone. Two
Harvard doctors say that system could be phased in here." Although
Tom Brokaw insured viewers that Briggs would "look at the various
options," Briggs explored only "universal health care"
plans that "involve federal and state funds in one way or
another," such as Ted Kennedy's mandated-benefits scheme. He
mentioned no conservative or market-based alternative. To build the case
for copying Canada, Briggs ended the report with some wild mathematics:
"All sides agree that costs are out of hand, and getting worse. One
sixth of the nation can't afford health care now. If its price continues
to rise at twice the rate of inflation, only the rich may be able to pay
for it by the end of the century."
Your Tax Dollars at
The misguided moguls of public
broadcasting continue to throw good money after bad political
programming. The latest example is The Struggle for Democracy,
a seven-part series narrated and produced by Canadian Patrick Watson. In
the final episode that aired September 12, Watson contemplated the
secret to successful democracies like... the one-party Marxist state of
Yes, Watson found that "Compared
with some African horror stories, Zimbabwe has to be a democratic
success, despite the one-party state." During the hour-long
broadcast, Watson called Zimbabwe an "independent legitimate
nation," an "independent democracy," and an
"independent multi-racial democracy."
This last appellation was the most
humorous, especially since Watson mentioned that during taping of the
series "the 20 seats reserved in the Assembly for whites were in
the process of being eliminated." Watson didn't even blink when
Didymus Mutasa, Speaker of Zimbabwe's Assembly, explained that "The
idea of opposition doesn't really come into the thinking of the
African," and those who disagree with the rules' edicts leave the
Another "democratic success"
for Watson: New Zealand's refusal to allow America's nuclear battleships
into port. "It's partly because of countries like New Zealand that
Robert McNamara's "average citizen' has the confidence to oppose
nuclear policies, Western or Soviet, that threaten us all," Watson
He further proved his inability to
discern a difference between communist and democratic nations when he
asked New Zealand's then-Prime Minister David Lange "What's the
lesson for other countries trying to be independent in the face of
superpower pressure? Jamaica? Nicaragua?
Time Toes The Liberal
Last year Time Magazine led its
October 17 issue with a letter from Managing editor Henry Muller telling
readers of Time's plans "to better serve the needs of
busy, curious, intelligent readers." Muller explained that "Time's
responsibility more than ever is to deliver understanding beyond the
sound bites and headlines." What exactly did that vague statement
portend? A couple of months later Time publicist Brian Brown
conceded to MediaWatch the new format meant
the magazine would be "more provocative" and
That's putting it mildly: A review by MediaWatch
analysts found that over the past year magazine reporters and editors
have aggressively promoted a liberal political agenda in its news pages.
Here are some examples:
Campaign Politics. Time
began its crusade just as the election season came to an end, when
liberal political analyst Garry Wills (identified as a "noted
historian") filed a seven-page review of the presidential campaign
for Time's Nov. 21 issue. He dismissed the conservative
ideology of some Republicans (The Rev. Pat Robertson was a
"laughing stock" who "staggered from one kookiness to the
next") but lauded the Rev. Jesse Jackson ("Economists called
Jackson's economic policies the best and most complete program being
offered by any candidate") Dukakis lost because "On the Pledge
he did not angrily grab the flag back and say it belongs to all
Americans... On the ACLU he did not get indignant that the honor of good
people was being impugned." As a result, "Bush won by default,
and by fouls. His 'mandate' is to ignore the threats to our economy,
sustain the Reagan heritage of let's pretend, and serve as figurehead
for what America has become, a frightened empire hiding its problems
Time especially savaged Bush
Campaign Manager and Republican party chief Lee Atwater. In the March 20
edition, Time referred to how he "downplayed his role in devising
the crypto-racist Willie Horton ads that helped Bush win the White
House." In a box titled "Sorry Is Not Enough"
accompanying a June 19 report on the so-called "Foley memo,"
National Political Correspondent Larry Barrett delivered a broadside:
"Atwater's fouling the civic atmosphere with vicious misinformation
is bad enough; compounding that with White House hypocrisy is too much.
If Bush really wants to prove himself a political environmentalist in
search of a kinder, gentler America, he should sack Atwater."
The Environment. Since
the election, Time has repeatedly promoted liberal solutions to
real or imagined environmental problems. In its "Planet of the
Year" issues (Jan. 2), editors called for, among other things,
raising the gasoline tax by 50 cents per gallon; by ratifying the Law of
the Sea treaty; making the environmental problem the "No. 1 agenda
item" at the Paris Economic Summit; and an immediate restoration of
aid to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities and the
International Planned Parenthood Federation. In "The Two Alaskas,"
(Apr. 17) Associate Editor Michael Lemonick decided "the time has
come to get tough about conservation." The first stop should be
"an immediate increase in the federal gasoline tax...The second
obvious step is to raise the auto industry's fuel economy
requirements." In a follow-up report, ("Fishing for
Leadership," May 22) Washington reporter Dick Thompson displayed
impatience with Bush: "Several signals, include Bush's slow
response to the Alaska oil spill and his refusal even to consider an
increase in the gasoline tax, have raised concern that he is not the
kind of forceful, decisive leader the country needs to deal with the
growing environmental crisis."
On September 18, Lemonick suggested
Americans could "go far" in assuaging the developing world by
"atoning for their environmental sins." His recommendations:
"Further stiffening of fuel-economy standards for new American
cars, for example, would send a strong signal. So would an increase in
federal gasoline taxes to bring U.S. fuel prices closer to those in
Brazil and the rest of the world."
Taxes and Spending. Time's
insistence on a gas tax increase was not an isolated recommendation, but
reflected the magazine's across the board liberal ideas on spending and
tax policy. Senior Writer Walter Shapiro dismissed Bush's budget
proposal to Congress as "an incoherent philosophy that might be
dubbed Reaganomics with a human face," clearly assuming Reaganomics
was bad policy. "The borrow and spend policies that Ronald Reagan
presided over have bequeathed to his chosen successor a downsized
presidency devoid of the resources to address long neglected domestic
problems. Bush's campaign strategists -- with the candidate's active
complicity -- burdened the President with an obdurate stance on
taxes," Shapiro complained in the February 20 story in which he
also denigrated Bush's capital gains tax cut proposal as "another
miracle grow elixir."
"If the President comes out strongly
for the mission" to Mars, Time declared July 24,
"Congress should be able to find a way to find a way to fund it.
One option: to siphon the money from Star Wars and other questionable
Foreign Policy. Time's
pronouncements on foreign policy would make the Institute for Policy
Studies proud. In a lengthy report on Central America ("No Winners,
Only Losers," Nov. 21) Associate Editor Jill Smolowe bluntly
rejected Reagan Administration policies in Nicaragua as "wishful
thinking" wrought by "ideological zeal." Since "the
Contras are never going to topple the Sandinistas," Time
proposed a new strategy: "Rather than try to undo the Sandinista
revolution, the new administration in Washington should acknowledge the
legitimacy of the Managua regime and resume direct negotiations that
address U.S. security concerns...The U.S. might spearhead and
international consortium of aid that would be applied to social reform
and economic growth." Nine months later, Smolowe reported:
"The [Central American] Presidents negotiated the dissolution of
the Nicaraguan Contras, a force that to many Central Americans
symbolized U.S. arrogance and interference during the 1980's."
In Time's May 15 cover story on
U.S./Soviet relations ("Do-Nothing Detente") George Church
blasted Bush, who "finally thinks he has a policy toward Moscow --
hang tough and see what happens -- but U.S. allies fear he is missing a
historic chance for not wanting to embrace Gorbachev's offers. Bush
seems almost recklessly timid, unwilling to respond with the imagination
and articulation the situation requires." The pictures for the
article told it all. With the caption "Instruments of War and
Peace," the first photo showed a U.S.-made Lance missile; the
second showed balloons and flowers in Moscow's Red Square on May Day.
In an accompanying article,
then-Washington Bureau Chief Strobe Talbott announced Bush had
"restored a degree of credibility and seriousness to the American
conduct of arms control that has been missing for a decade." In
contrast, Ronald Reagan and his "cadre of ideologues" promoted
"obstinate policies," and spent their time "fantasizing
about a perfect space-based defense." The accompanying picture for
this article included full facial shots of Jimmy Carter and George Bush,
with a partial shot of Reagan between them, being squeezed out of the
bottom of the picture. The caption: "Restoring a degree of
A year ago Muller assured readers: "Time
is above all a newsmagazine." It's hard to tell anymore.
Conceding The Obvious
Wall Street Journal editor
writer David Brooks culled some juicy admissions of media bias on
environmental issues at a September 16 global warming conference at the
Smithsonian Institution. In an October 5 Journal column, Brooks
quoted Charles Alexander: "As the science editor at Time I
would freely admit that on this issue we have crossed the boundary from
news reporting to advocacy." The audience applauded. Of course,
anyone who reads Time, with its "Planet of the Year"
agenda and "Endangered Earth" bulletins, hardly needed the
NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent
Andrea Mitchell told the audience that "clearly the networks have
made that decision now, where you'd have to call it advocacy."
Mitchell could be referring to segments of ABC's "American
Agenda" or NBC's own recent "Assignment Earth" series.
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