Networks Decry Difficulties for Teens Seeking Abortions
PARENTAL CONSENT, TV DISSENT
The Supreme Court's June 29 ruling
upholding most of Pennsylvania's abortion law had network reporters
mourning the consequences in exaggerated tones. Reporters predicted the
law's provisions for informed consent, parental consent, and a 24-hour
waiting period would cause many women to seek abortions in other states.
On ABC's World News Tonight,
reporter Carole Simpson reported from the Allentown Women's Center,
showing a 21-year-old woman who said she would have become a single
mother on welfare had the Pennsylvania law been in effect a few years
ago. Simpson concluded: "Abortion rights advocates say if necessary
they will help women travel to neighboring states to get abortions; a
way to avoid restrictions the Supreme Court did not find burdensome, but
that many women in Pennsylvania may."
On the CBS Evening News, anchor
Bob Schieffer declared: "The Supreme Court may have upheld the
principle that a woman has the right to an abortion, but the reality is
that in some places, it is still difficult to get one. After today, it
could be even more difficult." Reporter Edie Magnus found an
under-age "Jane Doe" from Ohio who got an abortion in another
state rather than tell her parents. Magnus worried about the
availability of abortion: "Pro-choice activists say even a strong
volunteer network won't reach every woman who wants an abortion,
particularly in rural areas. And most of the women who get abortions
will be directly affected by the restrictions upheld today. Fully a
third are minors, and fully a third are poor, making travel to other
states that much harder."
The next night, Dateline NBC
also featured a story on another anonymous Ohio teen who got an
abortion. In favor of unchallenged teen abortions were the anonymous
teen "Linda," and pro-abortion attorneys Al Gerhardstein and
Evelyn Maier. On the other side, NBC used only state legislator Gerry
Luebbers. Reporter Deborah Roberts explained that abortion proponents
find laws allowing women to seek a judge's permission instead of
parental notification "humiliating" and a "grueling
ordeal for a teenager."
But ABC and CBS didn't quote anyone in
favor of parental consent laws, even though 71 percent of the public
supports them. Only CNN pointed out the Pennsylvania restrictions,
usually described as "severe," were enormously popular. For
months, CNN-USA Today polls have shown that all four
Pennsylvania restrictions were favored by strong majorities of
DEMOCRATS COVERING DEMOCRATS
As the Democrats convened in New York
City this month, many of those covering the convention or overseeing the
news content from executive offices, had experience on the other side of
the microphone or notepad. The following people once worked on behalf of
Democratic presidential hopefuls or for liberal politicians. Next month MediaWatch
will list the few Republican veterans involved in Republican Convention
ABC News: Jeff Gralnick,
Vice President and Executive Producer of convention coverage; Press
Secretary to Senator George McGovern in 1972. Jeff Greenfield,
political and media reporter; Speechwriter to Senator Robert Kennedy,
CBS News: Dotty Lynch,
Political Editor; Democratic National Committee (DNC) Polling Director
in 1981-82 and pollster for Gary Hart and Mondale-Ferraro in 1984.
CNN: Tom Johnson,
President; Deputy Press Secretary and later Special Assistant to
President Lyndon Johnson. Ken Bode, special assignment
and political reporter; aide in 1976 Morris Udall presidential campaign
and author of the 1972 McGovern Commission Democratic delegate reform
NBC News: John Chancellor,
co-anchor of convention coverage; Director of the Voice of America in
the Johnson Administration. Tim Russert, Vice President
and Washington Bureau Chief, and "roving analyst" for the
convention; Counselor to New York Governor Mario Cuomo 1983-84 and
previously Chief-of-Staff to Senator Patrick Moynihan. Maria
Shriver, podium reporter; volunteer campaign aide for the 1972
McGovern-Shriver ticket and 1980 Ted Kennedy effort.
National Public Radio: Douglas
Bennet, President; Director of the Agency for International
Development for Jimmy Carter and Administrative Assistant to Senators
Tom Eagleton and Abraham Ribicoff. Bob Ferrante,
Executive Producer of morning news; Director of Communications for the
Democratic National Committee, 1986-88. Anne Edwards,
Senior Editor; scheduler for the 1984 Mondale-Ferraro campaign.
PBS: Kwame Holman, MacNeil-Lehrer
NewsHour reporter and for thec onvention, a floor reporter; Press
Secretary in 1980 for Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.
Time magazine: Margaret
Carlson, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; Special Assistant to
the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission during the Carter
Administration. Walter Shapiro, Senior Writer who is
covering the '92 campaign; Speechwriter for President Carter and Press
Secretary to Labor Secretary Ray Marshall.
U.S. News & World Report:
Kathryn Bushkin, Director of Editorial Administration; Press
Secretary for Gary Hart's 1984 campaign. Harrison Rainie,
Assistant Managing Editor now covering the campaign; Chief-of-Staff to
Sen. Patrick Moynihan, 1987.
A few media veterans are putting their
talents to work for the Democrats. DNC Press Secretary Ginny
Terzano served as a researcher in the CBS News election unit
during the 1988 campaign season. Former CBS News producer Anne
Reingold is in charge of a 50-person staff producing video of
the convention for use by local television stations. "The main goal
is to get our guys and our message on the air," Reingold told Washington
Post reporter Howard Kurtz. During her eight years with CBS,
Reingold worked for the Election and Survey Unit, served as a special
events producer and covered the campaigns of Democratic presidential
candidates Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson.
BLIND "EYE ON THE EARTH"
Pessimism dominates everything the
network news touches. Like a reverse Midas, the news turns gold into
toxic waste, calm into calamity. Signs of hope lie unacknowledged.
Government statistics and reports disproving bad news go unreported.
Environmental coverage is perhaps the most notorious example. Mix the
media's taste for bad news with their desire to side in favor of
"saving the planet" and you have a potent combination of bias
by omission. For sticking with discredited environmental theories and
ignoring scientific dissenters, CBS News earned the July Janet Cooke
On the May 31 Sunday Morning,
host Charles Kuralt introduced the first report in the CBS "Eye on
the Earth" series with a flourish: "Our motor cars free us and
foul the air. Our factories supply us with everything we need and poison
the water. Every time humanity makes a great leap forward, we land deep
in toxic mud."
Reporter David Culhane used the report to
glorify the reputation of CBS News as the first network to
"care" about the environment. He began with a Walter Cronkite
clip from 1969: "What is happening to our world is directly related
to too many passengers. Before there were too many people, it did not
seem to matter if we used up the environment. The earth is rich in
natural resources; we could use up a spot and move on. No longer."
Culhane failed to note that the expected consequences of
"overpopulation," namely mass famine and resource scarcity (as
measured by exorbitant prices), have not occurred since Cronkite's
But Culhane's mission wasn't truth, it
was self-promotion. He announced: "It was 1969. Walter Cronkite was
introducing America to a new subject...Twenty-three years later, Walter
Cronkite still feels a deep sense of concern."
Cronkite congratulated himself: "All
these things were impinging upon our future. That's what got us excited
about it. I'm very happy to say that I think we were pioneers, we were
on the cutting edge, and it's amazing really, that we have come as far
as we have in barely a quarter of a century."
But Culhane couldn't let the notion of
improvement stand. To accentuate the negative, Culhane produced Barry
Commoner, the socialist ecologist who ran for President in 1980 on the
Citizens Party ticket. During Earth Week 1990, Commoner appeared on the
CBS show Nightwatch and declared: "It's the very
principles of the free market, the free enterprise system, that has
caused this....We have got to get the common interest in environmental
stability into the decision-making process, and I'm afraid when we do
that, it won't be a free enterprise system."
Commoner gave Culhane the grave
assessment he was seeking: "I think that the situation is more
dangerous now. The global problems that we now understand much more
clearly, global warming, the ozone problem. Those are very serious.
They're global." Neither pointed out that the same
environmentalists who warn of global warming now spent the 1970s warning
the media about global cooling.
Culhane continued: "In 1969, Barry
Commoner was one of the first scientists to speak out about these very
new concerns ...Despite a trillion dollars spent in the United States to
improve the environment, and some successes, Commoner thinks the overall
record is dismal." Commoner painted a dark picture: "If you
look around to environmental pollution generally, where we have
numerical data, the improvements are on the order of 10 to 20
Protection Agency (EPA) figures on urban air quality from 1979 to 1988
show that the amount of lead in the air declined 89 percent, sulphur
dioxide declined 30 percent, and carbon monoxide declined 28 percent
just in ten years.
Later, Culhane pretended there had been
no progress in reducing air pollution: "Barry Commoner agrees that
government is not providing the leadership to change the environment. He
says there are many ways government could produce immediate action. For
instance, with the air pollution that was there in 1969 and is still
with us now."
Culhane also promoted the theory that
acid rain has caused major damage to American lakes and forests, saying
acid rain is responsible for "killing fish and further damaging
plants and trees."
Wrong. Culhane ignored
even his own network's 1990 report on acid rain. As reported by Steve
Kroft on 60 Minutes, the government's ten-year scientific study
on acid rain, the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Project (NAPAP),
found that there had been no discernible damage done to crops or forests
at present levels of acid rain emission.
Culhane then shifted his attention to the
cause of the day, the Rio Earth Summit: "At first, President Bush
threatened not to attend the Rio conference, but then agreed to go after
other nations accepted his version of the major treaty on control of
greenhouse gases. He wanted no timetables or binding goals. Political
and environmental critics say the treaty has been gutted."
So who did Culhane bring on to be Bush's
political critic? Cronkite, the supposedly objective news anchor:
"I think we led the world in this area for so many years, and now
the world's awakened to the problems. We know the situation's critical
all over the world, and those people are ready to move, and here we are
putting on the brakes. I think it's terribly disappointing." If the
1969 news clips didn't prove Cronkite's bias, his 1992 statements
definitely did. In the end, CBS didn't so much burnish its history of
reporting as remind viewers of its history of liberal advocacy.
When contacted by MediaWatch,
Culhane said he'd call back. Reached later in the day, Culhane said he
couldn't talk: "I'm literally out the door. I mean I have a
cameraman and producer standing here." Asked if he could call back
later or the next day, he said: "We're literally right in the
middle of a production." If Culhane decides to respond to this
article, we'll print his response in the next issue.
THE WRONG RIGHTS.
The networks believe some "rights" are more important than
others. On the same day the abortion decision was announced, the court
ruled in favor of individual rights in Lucas vs. South Carolina
Coastal Council. David Lucas spent $975,000 for two beachfront
lots, but the state prevented him from building anything of value on
them, even though houses surround the lots.
But to court reporters, property rights
aren't important rights. The evening newscasts all reported at least
three stories on the abortion decision. But ABC and CBS didn't even
mention the Lucas case. NBC gave the story a brief anchor read, and CNN World
News anchor Patrick Greenlaw placed this spin on a clear victory
for individual liberties: "The Court also handed down a ruling
cutting into the government's ability to regulate private
MEDIA CHIEFS HONOR DEMS.
The 1992 campaign is under way and media bigwigs are lining up for
Democrats. The night before the Democratic convention began, the gay
magazine The Advocate and the National Lesbian and Gay
Journalists Association hosted a reception honoring California Senate
candidate Barbara Boxer, Rep. Barney Frank, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor
Holmes Norton. The co-chairs to this event: Tom Johnson, President of
the Cable News Network; Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Publisher of The New
York Times; and Shelby Coffey, Editor of the Los Angeles Times.
We'll be waiting to see if these three journalists will be fair and
balanced and lend their names to any pre-Republican Convention reception
honoring California Senate candidate Bruce Herschensohn, Rep. Dick Armey,
and Rep. Bob Dornan. Right.
BACK TO HOMELESS MYTHS.
Only three months ago Newsweek reporter Jay Mathews debunked
the popular liberal myth of a homeless population of three million.
Mathews wrote in the April 6 issue: "The figure of 3 million
homeless in the United States, used by advocates and the media in the
1980s, has little basis in fact. A 1988 Urban Institute report found
there were no more than 600,000 homeless people on any night."
But Newsweek just can't let go.
In a June 29 report on rising homelessness in Europe, Newsweek
reporter Pascal Privat suggested "the best figures available"
were these: "The National Coalition for the Homeless says 3 million
Americans have no permanent shelter."
HATE CRIME HYPE. When
the Supreme Court overturned a law against flag-burning in 1989, the
media went into a frenzy applauding "free expression." But
there was no applause from CNN when the court ruled on June 22 that a
Minnesota "hate crime" law on cross burnings went too far in
limiting First Amendment-protected speech.
On that night's World News,
reporter Bonnie Anderson announced that one "hate crime"
victim is "angry the Supreme Court ruled the racial hatred that
drove her from her Marietta, Georgia home is protected by the U.S.
Constitution....The ruling means that she and her children must still
live in fear....Civil rights groups are concerned that the wording [of
the court's ruling] was too vague, and now it is open season on hate
crimes." CNN left the impression that the Supreme Court had
overturned all the other laws under which cross burners can be
prosecuted: trespassing, destruction of property, disturbing the peace,
and so on.
GUNNING FOR GARTNER. NBC
News President Michael Gartner, a man who believes the First Amendment
is so expansive it gives him the right to identify rape victims on
national TV, isn't so hot about other parts of the Bill of Rights. The
National Rifle Association has targeted Gartner as a supporter of a
total ban on handguns, which would require a rewriting of the
Constitution. The NRA launched an ad campaign with actors Charlton
Heston, Susan Howard, and Gerald McRaney. The ads quote a January 16 USA
Today column in which Gartner called for eliminating the
constitutional right to own handguns: "Let's ban them. Let's change
the Constitution....There is no reason for anyone in this country,
anyone except a police officer or a military person, to buy, to own, to
have, to use a handgun."
Cheerleading for a handgun ban is nothing
new to the NBC News President. On January 10, 1991, The Wall Street
Journal published a Gartner column titled "Tell Me a Good
Reason for Handguns." He wrote: "I'm especially against
handguns. I'm against them because they are used to threaten, to maim,
to kill. I'm against them because today, if it is typical, 10 children
will be killed by handguns....I can't think of any reason to be for
handguns." If the criteria for a ban is maiming or killing people,
why not ban cars?
CHICKEN LITTLE'S SQUAWK.
The media's general affection for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
couldn't be missed, and Newsweek reporter Sharon Begley
couldn't find enough praise for the summit's efforts -- or disdain for
the U.S. position.
In her June 1 report on the upcoming
summit, Begley applauded the accuracy of the notoriously wrong Club of
Rome's Limits to Growth report of 1972: "Its warning that
population and growth might tip the world's economic or biological
life-support systems into collapse within 100 years was greeted with as
much ridicule as reflection. Few thought its doomsday scenario possible.
Few took it seriously. But then a funny thing happened....exactly the
sort of collapses foreseen in Limits came about." She
failed to mention the report also warned the world would run out of oil
Begley had no use for President Bush. In
the June 15 issue, she wrote: "When Bush shows up this week for a
40-hour appearance, even many of America's allies are going to greet him
as the Grinch who stole the eco-summit." Begley's measure of
success was detailed in the June 22 issue where she wrote, "But the
real yardstick of success was neither rhetoric nor treaties...The true
measure was cash....America, in contrast, found itself in the role of
cranky Uncle Scrooge."
HIT MAN HUGHES In the
same issue in which Time devoted two pages to its favorite
Time-Warner recording artist, "Cop Killer" rapper Ice-T, (his
"poetry....deftly slices life's jugular"), the magazine
selected art critic Robert Hughes to attack Dan Quayle for making
Time-Warner an issue in the first place.
Hughes defended his favorite involuntary
charity, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and dripped contempt
for Quayle's family-values crusade: "It may be, as members of the
Republican Party seem to believe, that there are few disadvantages to
being American. But there is at least one: what other democratic nation
would make a bantam like J. Danforth Quayle its Vice President and send
him forth to lecture on public morality and cultural health?...Now the
Little Communicator is at it again."
Hughes again charged conservatives with
divisive and diversionary politics: "A plethora of Washington
conservatives hope for distraction issues -- anything that will take
voters' minds off the domestic economy -- and see the campaign for moral
restrictions on the NEA a rich source of cheap shots against `liberal'
culture." As for the NEA's new director, Anne Imelda-Radice, Hughes
blustered that she was appointed to "replace John Frohnmayer, who
was fired to appease Pat Buchanan's distorted and ranting attacks on the
NEA during the early primaries."
ANITA AMNESIA. Reporters
are still ignoring evidence that shakes the credibility of Anita Hill,
the media's poster girl for sexual harassment and female Senate
candidates. While Capitol Games, a new book by Newsday
reporter (and Hill leak beneficiary) Timothy Phelps, drew stories or
interviews from ABC's Good Morning America, CNN's Larry
King Live, NBC's Sunday Today, and U.S. News &
World Report, David Brock and his March American Spectator
exposť remained unreported and unchallenged by all of these outlets.
Reporters also ignored the latest crack in Hill's credibility. The June
11 Daily Oklahoman reported that Hill is taking a year-long
sabbatical from the University of Oklahoma to give lucrative speeches
and more importantly, write a book -- which she told Senators she
The almost-total silence on Brock's
expose was broken on June 7 by The Boston Globe's Thomas C.
Palmer Jr., a writer for the Globe's Sunday "Focus"
section. Wrote Palmer: "John Bliss, a Judiciary Committee staff
member who questioned many witnesses in preparation for the hearings,
says he considers the Spectator article accurate: 'We've had
several months go by now to have someone come forward and effectively
rebut it, and no one has.'"
MAURO'S MOURNINGS. USA
Today court reporter Tony Mauro has taken his complaints about the
conservative Supreme Court to where he doesn't have to pretend to be
balanced, the July/August issue of the liberal Washington Monthly.
"The rightward shift has, of course, been most visible on the
Supreme Court....But the decisions at the next tier of the judiciary --
the circuit courts of appeals -- and the tier below that -- the district
courts -- are, ideologically, the Supreme Court again and again. Only
worse." Declared Mauro: "The losers in this ideological battle
are, of course, those who most need the protection of the courts:
minorities, criminal defendants, and the downtrodden. Congress, state
courts, and legislatures are increasingly called upon to assume the role
of protector once played by the federal courts."
Mauro even took a shot at the American
people for backing the nomination of Clarence Thomas: "Our nation's
attention -- if not its conscience -- was aroused by the feisty public
battles waged at the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork and Clarence
Thomas." Mauro concluded by lobbying: "The composition of the
courts should be a major issue in the campaigns for both the presidency
and the Senate, where the power to confirm federal judges should, after
the Thomas debacle, be taken a little more seriously."
STRONG'S NOVEL IDEA.
Peter Jennings gave "Person of the Week" honors June 5 to
Maurice Strong, Secretary General of last month's U.N. Earth Summit.
Jennings complimented Strong: "He is hopeful about finding ways to
make the earth a better place to live...He is the world's most tireless
cheerleader for the planet."
But Jennings left out Strong's real
feelings for the planet's industrial nations, captured in Strong's own
words on his idea for a novel plot, quoted in the Canadian news magazine
Alberta Report on May 11: "What if a small group of world
leaders were to conclude that the principal risk to the earth comes from
the actions of the rich countries? And if the world is to survive, those
rich countries would have to sign an agreement reducing their impact on
the environment. Would they do it? The group's conclusion is no. The
rich countries won't do it. They won't change. So in order to save the
planet, the group decides: isn't the only hope for the planet that the
industrialized nations collapse? Isn't our responsibility to bring that
about? This group of world leaders form a secret society to bring about
an economic collapse."
Style Triumphs Over
Substance of Summit
To reporters, the U.N. "Earth
Summit" in Rio de Janeiro wasn't a forum for detailed reporting on
the complexities of political and scientific debate on the environment.
Instead, it was a laudable and idealistic gathering ruined by President
Bush. The substance of the summit, the text of the treaties to be signed
or rejected, took a back seat to style. Who was in favor of "saving
the planet"? And who was not? Among the highlights of Rio bias:
Anchors and reporters regularly reported
that the summit was designed to "save the planet." But taking
the position that the planet was in danger landed the media squarely in
the liberal camp. In the days before the summit, anchors wallowed in the
simplistic: on ABC's World News Sunday May 31, Forrest Sawyer
stated: "The U.S. is under fire for standing in the way of efforts
to protect the planet." CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour oozed like a
U.N. press packet on June 3: "The Summit, with perhaps the loftiest
goal ever, to stop us from pushing our own planet toward environmental
The U.S. delegation was regularly
described as "isolated" after it "watered down" a
"global warming" treaty and refused to sign the biodiversity
treaty, which was "designed to protect plants and animals."
Almost every reporter, in print and broadcast, used this inaccurate
shorthand. Few mentioned the actual text of the treaty, which demanded
that the U.S. hand out foreign aid to Third World countries with no
conditions, meaning they could not designate the money to protect
plants and animals. Only CNN obliquely mentioned that fact.
While the Big Three networks edged toward
a tentative balance in talking heads in summit stories in the last week
in May and the first two weeks in June, mildly favoring summit promoters
over summit skeptics, 39 to 34, CNN demonstrated its
"pro-planet" bias with a lopsided soundbite count of 83 to 3.
But the skeptical soundbites were dominated by the resolute President
and less-than-resolute EPA Director William Reilly. Scientists skeptical
of U.N. pronouncements on global warming, biodiversity, overpopulation
and other topics were still mostly excluded.
Even so, there were breakthroughs. For
perhaps the first time ever, greenhouse-skeptical scientist Fred Singer
appeared in a network story. ABC's Ned Potter, however, cast doubt upon
Singer's credibility: "S. Fred Singer is a scientist who often
defends industries like coal and oil, which are less concerned about the
climate than about drastic economic measures being proposed to protect
Bored By KGB Archives
GORBY GETS OFF
During a June 17 press conference, NBC's
John Cochran asked Boris Yeltsin why Mikhail Gorbachev had never
mentioned American POWs. The Russian President responded: "You have
had a chance to ask this question of the former president of the former
Soviet Union, why he kept this a secret." Reporters still have no
interest in searching out the truth about Gorbachev's reign.
Several million documents of the former
Soviet Communist Party and government have been released to the public.
Rather than investigate these documents, reporters downplayed their
importance, and even ridiculed the Yeltsin government for releasing
them. On the May 26 CBS This Morning, reporter Jonathan Sanders
began: "It seems like a scene out of a very bad, very old spy movie
or the rantings of some right-wing American politician, but it's
government officials here who say that they have proof that the
Communist Party provided money and arms to international terrorist
On the June 20 NBC Nightly News,
Bob Abernethy reported that the files revealed official ties to
terrorism and the Chernobyl disaster, but suggested: "explosive
revelations, real 'smoking guns' -- they probably never will be
disclosed." Abernethy charged: "For Yeltsin, if old files
embarrass his critic and possible rival Mikhail Gorbachev, all the
Yeltsin brought 300 declassified KGB
documents for exhibition at the Library of Congress. A Library spokesman
told MediaWatch most of the print media
attended a news conference opening the exhibit, but the network news
crews were all absent. Only ABC's Good Morning America did
anything, airing a Joan Lunden interview with Librarian of Congress
Clinton's Media Fans
HOPING HE WINS
In recent months two New Republic
Senior Editors, both veterans of Newsweek, have described the
depth of Bill Clinton's support in the news media. In the March 9 issue,
Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: "Several dozen political journalists of my
acquaintance, many of whom the Buchanan administration may someday round
up on suspicion of having Democratic or even liberal sympathies -- was
of one mind as the season's first primary campaign shuddered toward its
finish. I asked each of them, one after another, this question: If you
were a New Hampshire Democrat, whom would you vote for? The answer was
always the same; and the answer was always Clinton. In this group, in my
experience, such unanimity is unprecedented....
"Almost none is due to calculations
about Clinton being `electable'....and none at all is due to belief in
Clinton's denials in the Flowers business, because no one believes these
denials. No, the real reason members of The Press like Clinton is
simple, and surprisingly uncynical: they think he would make a very
good, perhaps a great, President."
In the May 11 issue, Mickey Kaus
suggested why many hope Clinton wins: "Many pro-Clinton journalists
can reasonably hope for something more than glamorous candlelight
dinners in the Clinton White House. They can hope for jobs in
the Clinton White House. The air is thick with undisclosed
ambition....let's just say that the positions of press secretary and
speechwriter to President Clinton will be among the more hotly contested
job opportunities to come along since 9,000 people lined up for a few
hotel jobs in Chicago last winter."
MEDIA MONEY FUNDS
Media critics on the left have warned
that a conservative bias dominates the news thanks to the
"conservative" executives who run America's major media
corporations. Even some reporters believe the heads of media
corporations are conservative. On C-SPAN last December 6, CNN reporter
Bob Franken concluded: "The ownership of the media are in fact
conservative. They are, first of all, they're rich. They have to be
rich, and that usually translates to conservative."
But how do these "conservative"
corporate executives really come down on political issues? In the last
few years, MediaWatch has shown that media
company foundations give 90 percent of their political grants to liberal
groups. Now, MediaWatch analysts have
investigated the federal political contributions made by major media
executives and journalists. A sample of those findings, from 1988 to
present, strike another damaging blow to the myth of
"conservative" media corporations. Media figures give to
Democrats roughly six times as often as they donate to Republicans.
Contributions to Republicans were seldom
based on executives' beliefs, but on a self-interested
support-the-winner attitude. How else could you explain supporting both
Clinton and Bush? ABC Chairman Thomas Murphy gave to both Republican Tom
Campbell and Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the same Senate race. Media
executives may also be self-interested in donating to Senators such as
Daniel Inouye, or Congressmen such as Ed Markey, since they chair
subcommittees governing the media. Donation records were gathered at the
Federal Election Commission and do not include state races. For example,
CBS reporter Ed Bradley and PBS anchor Charlayne Hunter-Gault gave $500
and $700, respectively, to Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder in 1989; and in
1988, Dan Rather attended a fundraiser for Texas Gov. Ann Richards.
While many executives would claim they
have no control over the content of news, some donors we've identified
do. Howard Stringer, President of CBS News during 1990-91, is a Clinton
supporter; Douglas Bennet, President of NPR, gave money to Paul Tsongas.
Judith Moyers, who produces all of husband Bill Moyers' PBS programs,
donated to Sen. Harris Woford and the Democratic feminist fundraisers at
Emily's List. Reporters who favor Democrats in their copy aren't
challenging the corporate brass -- they're pleasing them.
Partial list of media contributors with
titles, 1988-92 (Republicans in italics):
Steven J. Ross, Co-Chairman, Time
Warner: Democratic National Committee, $100,000; Sen. Rudy
Boschwitz, $1,000; Sen. Bill Bradley, $2,000; Sen. Bill Bradley,
$2,000, Rep. Jack Brooks, $2,000; Bush-Quayle '92, $1,000; Sen.
William Cohen, $2,000; Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,
$5,000; Sen. Chris Dodd, $1,000; Sen. Wyche Fowler, $2,000; Rep. Dan
Glickman, $500; Sen. Al Gore, $2,000; Sen. Howell Heflin, $2,000; Sen.
Ernest Hollings, $2,000; Sen. John Kerry, $2,000; Sen. Patrick Leahy,
$1,000; New York Republican County Committee, $2,500;; Sen. Sam
Nunn, $2,000; Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee, $5,000; Rep.
Charles Rangel, $1,500; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, $2,000; Sen. Warren
Rudman, $2,000; Sen. Terry Sanford, $1,000; Rep. James Scheuer,
$2,000; Sen. Paul Simon, $1,000; Rep. Edolphus Towns, $1,000.
Gerald M. Levin, Co-Chairman,
Time Warner: Clinton for President, $500; Sen. Al D'Amato,
$250; Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $1,000; Sen. John Kerry,
$1,000; Rep. Thomas Manton, $1,000; Rep. Thomas Manton, $1,000; Rep. Ed
Markey, $1,000; Mrazek for Senate, $1,000; Sen. Bob Packwood,
$1,000; Sen. Wyche Fowler, $1,000; Sen. Tim Wirth, $1,000.
N.J. Nicholas, ex-Co-Chairman,
Time Warner: Tsongas for President, $1,000.
Timothy A. Boggs, Vice
President-Government Affairs, Time Warner: Sen. Bill Bradley,
$1,000; Rep. Jack Brooks, $1,000; Bush-Quayle '92, $1,000;
Clinton for President, $1,000; Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,
$2,500; Sen. Chris Dodd, $2,000; Rep. Vic Fazio, $1,000; Rep. Barney
Frank, $250; Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, $500; Rep. Dick Gephardt,
$250; Harkin for President, $1,000; Human Rights Campaign Fund PAC,
$420; Rep. Robert Kastenmeier, $1,000; Sen. John Kerry, $2,000; Sen.
Patrick Leahy, $250; Rep. Thomas Manton, $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $3,000; Sen.
Bob Packwood, $1,000; Rep. Mike Synar, $1,500.
Mark Mitzner, Executive Vice
President, Time Warner: Clinton for President, $1,000.
Mayo Stuntz, Executive Vice
President, Time Warner: Clinton for President, $1,000.
Andrew Tobias, "Money
Angles" columnist, Time magazine: Abrams for
Senate, $500; Clinton for President, $1,000; Rep. Barney Frank, $1,000;
Sen. Graham, $250; Huffington for Congress, $500; Tsongas for
President, $1,000; Melvin Watt for Congress, $1,000.
Martha Smilgis, Reporter, Time
magazine: Dianne Feinstein for Senate, $250.
Howard Stringer, President, CBS
Broadcast Group and former President, CBS News: Clinton for
President, $1,000; Sen. Daniel Inouye, $1,000.
Martin D. Franks, Vice
President-Government Relations, CBS: Sen. Brock Adams, $500;
Sen. Joseph Biden, $500; Rep. David Bonior, $500; Rep. Rick Boucher,
$500; Rep. Barbara Boxer, $500; Sen. John Breaux, $1,000; Sen. Kent
Conrad, $500; Sen. Tom Daschle, $500; Rep. Butler Derrick, $500; Rep.
John Dingell, $1,000; Sen. Alan Dixon, $1,000; Sen. James Exon, $1,000;
Rep. Vic Fazio, $500; Sen. William Ford, $1,000; Rep. Martin Frost,
$500; Rep. Bart Gordon, $500; Rep Willis Gradison, $250; Kerrey
for President, $500; Sen. John Kerry, $500; Sen. Patrick Leahy, $250;
Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Rep. Bob Matusi, $500; Rep. Tom McMillen, $250;
Rep. David Skaggs, $250; Sen. Ted Stevens, $500; Rep. Al Swift,
$500; Rep. Mike Synar, $1,000.
Daniel B. Burke, President,
Capital Cities/ABC: Sen. Ernest Hollings, $1,000; Rep. Peter
Thomas S. Murphy, Chairman,
Capitol Cities/ABC: Tom Campbell for Senate, $1,000;
Feinstein for Senate, $1,000; Sen. Ernest Hollings, $1,000; Sen. John
Kerry, $1,500; Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, $1,000; Rep. Marty Russo, $500;
Sen. Terry Sanford, $2,000; Rep. Mike Synar, 1,000; Rep. Tom Tauke,
Mark MacCarthy, VP-Government
Affairs, Capital Cities/ABC: Sen. Ernest Hollings, $500; Sen.
John Kerry, $500; Rep. Peter Kostmayer, $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $1,500.
Robert C. Wright, President, NBC:
Sen. Bill Bradley, $1,000; Bush-Quayle '92,$1,000; Rep. John
Dingell, $1,000; Sen. Earnest Hollings, $2,000; Sen. Daniel Inouye,
$1,000; Rep. Thomas Manton, $500; rep. Ed Markey, $500; Rep. Charles
Rangel, $500; Rep. Christopher Shays, $2,000; Tom Tauke for
Lawrence A. Bossidy, Vice
Chairman, General Electric: Bush-Quayle '92, $1,000;
Sen. Ernest Hollings, $1,000; Rep. Charles Schumer, $2,000.
Richard Cotton, Vice President
and General Counsel, NBC: Clinton for President, $1,000; Sen.
Ernest Hollings, $2,000; Sen. John Kerry, $1,000; Rep. Thomas Manton,
$500; Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Rep. Jim Scheuer, $1,000.
Frank P. Doyle, Senior Vice
President, General Electric: Clinton for President, $1,000;
Democratic National Committee, $2,200; Dole For President,
$500; Rep. Dick Gephardt, $250; Sen. Tom Harkin, $1,000; Sen. Ernest
Hollings, $1,000; Sen. John Kerry, $1,000; Rep. Ray McGrath,
$500; Rep. Thomas Petri, $300; Sen Paul Simon, $1,000.
Edward E. Hood, Jr., Vice
Chairman, General Electric: Rep. Nicholas Mavroules, $500.
Terence p. Mahony,
VP-Governmental Relations, NBC: Rep. Ed Markey, $250; Kerrey
for President, $1,000.
Cathleen P. Black, President,
American Newspaper Publishers Association and former publisher, USA
Today: Rep. Ed Markey, $1,000; Women's Campaign Fund, $1,000.
Victor Zonana, Financial
Reporter, Lost Angeles Times: Clinton for President, $100.
Millicent Feller, Vice President
for Government Relations, Gannett: Rep. Beryl Anthony, $500; Sen.
Bob Packwood, $1,000; Rep. Al Swift, $300.
Douglas J. Bennet Jr., President,
National Public Radio: Tsongas for President, $500.
Judith Moyers, Executive
Producer, Public Affairs Television (PBS): Sen. Harris Wofford,
$1,000; Emily's List, $250.
Sharon Percy Rockefeller,
President, WETA and retiring board member, Corporation for Public
Broadcasting: Barbara Boxer for Senate, $250; Clinton for
President, $1,000; Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $1,500;
Democratic National Committee, $3,000; Ferraro for Senate, $500; Harvy
Gantt for Senate Campaign, $500; West Virginia State Democratic
Executive Committee, $1,000; Sen Tim Wirth, $1,000; Women's Campaign
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