Post-Election Economic Numbers Embarrass Negative Media
THE CLINTON BOOM BEGINS?
The November outbreak of good economic
news came too late for President Bush. But it didn't come too late to
embarrass media bigwigs for the excuses they offered for improving
pre-election economic figures.
On November 25, the networks dutifully
reported that the economic growth in the third quarter (July to
September) had been revised upward from 2.7 percent to a strong 3.9
percent. When the 2.7 number was announced on October 27, the media had
rushed to downplay it. On World News Tonight, ABC anchor Peter
Jennings asserted: "That is more than economists had projected, but
in many cases, less than meets the eye."
The next night, Jennings pressed his
point again: "The President may complain about the news media, but
the economic growth figures which he is so pleased about are not that
definitive, according to a great many independent economic
The Washington Post also rushed
out with economist naysayers on October 28: "But many independent
economists, who had expected about a 1.5 percent growth rate, said the
U.S. economy cannot keep up such a pace."
In its November 23 issue, Time
Senior Writer John Greenwald concurred: "Most economists agree that
the U.S. recovery is far weaker than the recent 2.7 GDP growth spurt
indicates. `That was a nice number, but not sustainable,' said Lea
Tyler, manager of U.S. economic forecasting for Oxford Economics."
In the December 7 issue, Time
took a different tone: "Gross domestic product leaped up at an
annual rate of 3.9 percent in the third quarter, returning total output
of goods and services to the pre-recession pace of mid-1990. Strong
increases were registered by consumer spending, business investment,
orders for durable goods, sales of existing houses and consumer
None of the outlets that downplayed the
pre-election economic numbers admitted their errors. When consumer
confidence rose in October, the Post (and others) didn't cite
the growth number as a reason for new confidence. They cited the
election of Bill Clinton.
The New York Times went the
furthest, topping their front page November 30 with an article by
reporter Sylvia Nasar. She accentuated the positive statistics from July
forward and attributed the uptick to Clinton, citing anecdotal approval
from a few business executives as proof of Clinton's effect. The story's
headline -- "Is The Clinton Expansion Here?" -- said it all.
Sexual harassment charges led former CBS
News reporter Randy Daniels to decline the nomination
for a Deputy Mayor position under New York City Mayor David Dinkins.
Before his late October decision, Daniels was about to take over as
media and political adviser to the Democratic Mayor. A CBS News
correspondent in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Daniels helped cover
the 1979 hostage crisis from Tehran.
After helping set up a television
operation in Nigeria and teaching at the Columbia University Graduate
School of Journalism, in 1986 he joined the staff of New York City
Council President Andrew Stein as Press Secretary.
Replacing Mrs. Rollins
Ed Rollins' decision to sign-on with the
Ross Perot campaign prompted his wife, Sherrie Rollins, to resign her
position as Assistant to the President for Public Liaison, a job she
took after leaving ABC News where she had been Director of News
Information. At the Perot campaign, husband Ed Rollins hired Liz
Noyer Maas to handle press relations.
Now, after a six month vacancy, Maas has
replaced Rollins at ABC. In 1988 Maas was Deputy Director of Pete
DuPont's presidential campaign in New Hampshire, a duty she accepted
after two years as an assistant to Marlin Fitzwater, then Press
Secretary to Vice President Bush. In 1990 Maas handled press for Bay
Buchanan's unsuccessful run for Treasurer of California.
Crier to 20/20
After three years with CNN, anchor Catherine
Crier will join ABC in January as a correspondent for 20/20.
A Republican-elected civil district court judge in Texas, Crier had no
TV news experience when she joined the network in October 1989. She
handled her final CNN anchoring duties for Crier & Company,
Inside Politics, and The World Today just before
Moyers Revolves Back?
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers
seems to have returned to his role as a Democratic political adviser. A
Press Secretary to President Lyndon Johnson and a commentator and
reporter for CBS News for over a decade, Moyers hosted the weekly Listening
to America series on PBS this year.
On November 17, Washington Post
reporter Howard Kurtz described how Moyers "went at Clinton's
invitation" to Little Rock "to discuss ways to 'revitalize'
the White House, the President-elect told a news conference yesterday.
(The two men also caught Robert Redford's new flick, A River Runs
Through It, and Moyers spent the night at the Governor's
Mansion.)" Moyers told Kurtz that Clinton "wanted to know
about decisions Johnson made on Vietnam, how the staff system worked. I
found him a really good student."
When it was revealed that George Will had
coached Ronald Reagan before a 1980 debate, a firestorm of media
criticism erupted. No such reaction this year from the journalistic
Helping out with the transition effort: Marla
Romash, an Associate Producer for Good Morning America
in the mid-'80s. Press Secretary to Senator Al Gore since 1989, she's
now Deputy Director of press for the transition's Washington office.
@RDHEAD = Oakland Editor.
On December 1 the Oakland Tribune became
part of the Alameda Newspaper Group, a division of the MediaNews Group,
the publisher of the Houston Post. On the same day, the owner of four
Oakland area dailies named Pearl Stewart the Editor of the Group's newly
acquired Tribune. Since the beginning of 1992 Pearl served as an aide to
Democrat Mary King, President of the Alameda County Board of
Supervisors. For 12 years ending in 1991, Pearl covered the East Bay for
the San Francisco Chronicle.
CLINTON, SEX GOD
As the new President speeds toward
inauguration, political reporters are piling on the puff pieces. Time
Senior Writer Walter Shapiro crowed in the November 16 issue: "At a
moment when the American libido seems to oscillate between Puritanism
and rampant exhibitionism, how significant is it that for the first time
in more than 30 years the nation has elected a President with sex
appeal?....Cheryl Russell, Editor of The Boomer Report, a
monthly newsletter on consumer trends, captures a new dimension in the
national psyche when she confides, 'Every woman I know is having sex
dreams about Bill Clinton.'"
In the November 23 U.S. News &
World Report, writer Matthew Cooper cooed: "The
President-elect's unique trait is a mix of cunning and kindness; he uses
both to learn from others in order to make his own decisions...One
presidential precedent that Clinton -- and perhaps the country -- can
take comfort in is the fact that the last Democratic challenger to win
by a healthy margin shared these traits of ideological expediency and
diffuse authority. In his day, Franklin Roosevelt had what might be
called a Slick Frank reputation."
The puff pieces are also trickling down
to Clinton's staff, especially spokesman George Stephanopoulos. In Time
November 30, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Margaret Carlson oozed:
"This brooding, dark presence has a quiet authority. His power
whisper makes people lean in to him, like plants reaching toward the
sun." Cooper of U.S. News swooned: "Like the
President he will serve, Stephanopoulos is the ultimate political
meritocrat.... Those who know him best cherish his decency and
On November 23, Washington Post
reporter David Maraniss betrayed the reporters' selfishly syrupy desire
for access to key sources in the new White House: "Of all the aides
surrounding Clinton, Stephanopoulos is the one everybody seems eager to
learn more about these days, partly because of his newfound power and
attractiveness, but also because he seems to have more depth and
complexity. Here is the student of theology making a living in the
spiritual void of inside politics. Here is the cheerful countenance with
the brooding soul. Here is a fellow who looks so young and dresses so
hip yet behaves with such maturity."
Gumbel Consults Only
NBC's AFRICAN ADVENTURE
In a history-making week of live
broadcasts from Africa, NBC's Today show gave its viewers a
look at the continent beyond the rare portraits painted on the nightly
news. During the six weekday shows from November 13-20, viewers were
treated to shots of wildlife, a showcasing of the continent's cultures
and the various political and economic situations.
But co-host Bryant Gumbel's portrayal of
some "one-party democracies" rang hollow. At the end, Gumbel
thanked those who helped: "The cooperation of the Zimbabwean
government was essential. The good folks of Zimbabwe Broadcasting, South
Africa Broadcasting Corporation helped us a great deal. Also some of the
people who helped us from behind the scenes: Africa News Service,
TransAfrica, also Neal and Company."
TransAfrica as the only political source?
Bryant Gumbel's use of TransAfrica for the Africa broadcasts explained
the one-sided reporting which earns him this month's Janet Cooke Award.
Introducing the second show on November
16, Gumbel laid out his thesis: "[African] dreams of freedom got
warped by global politics, as the aid they needed came tied to policies
they didn't. Africans became silent prisoners of Cold War designs. The
leaders were courted by Moscow and Washington, the people were not. So
violence and economic ruin prevailed. Today, the hot struggles borne by
the Cold War still burn in five African nations. But they are the
exception in a continent where freedom is now the rule. The residue of
oppression is now giving way to the dawn of democracy, shedding new
light on the misnamed 'Dark Continent.'"
Gumbel's view might be explained by his
heavy reliance upon the far-left lobby TransAfrica. Robert Winters wrote
in the Capital Research Center's December 1989 Organization Trends
newsletter: "The organization's financial relationships reveal an
affinity for Marxist-Leninist regimes while calling into question its
depndence and credibility." According to Winters, TransAfrica's
contributors have included the governments of Cuba, Angola, and Libya.
Much of Today's rhetoric on
African politics sounded like a TransAfrica press release. On the
November 13 show, Gumbel referred to Zimbabwe's Marxist leaders Robert
Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo as "freedom fighters," and the
one-party revolution as a "war of liberation."
On Angola, Gumbel commented: "The
ruling faction, the Marxist MPLA, bolstered by the Soviets and the
Cubans, fought with the UNITA rebels, supported by the U.S. and South
Africa. UNITA's Jonas Savimbi narrowly lost the presidential election in
September. Now he's throwing the country into violent turmoil demanding
a second vote monitored by the UN."
That's a distortion. A November 6 Washington
Times editorial clarified the situation: "If anyone had doubts
that the government of President Eduardo dos Santos and his MPLA had not
been playing fair in the country's elections a little over a month ago,
the brutal crackdown on the opposition ought to have dispelled them by
now...Tanks, helicopter gunships, heavy artillery, all were put to use
in Luanda's crowded suburbs. No one caught with a UNITA symbol was
safe...All media access was controlled by the government...And not only
did the [MPLA- dominated] national election council attempt to steer
election observers to carefully selected polling stations, when the
German observer team objected loudly, its car was confiscated."
Africa analyst Margaret Calhoun of the
Washington-based International Freedom Foundation (IFF) pointed out that
besides UNITA, 10 of the 13 opposition parties lodged complaints of
massive voter fraud.
Regarding Namibia, Gumbel claimed the
country's Marxist President Sam Nujoma had "worked for human rights
for years." On November 20, he asserted: "Today Namibians of
all colors are working together under a liberal constitution brokered by
the United Nations two years ago. With a multiracial democracy and a
remarkable willingness to forgie the past, Namibians are working toward
IFF's Calhoun rejected Gumbel's
assessment of the Namibian "democracy." In the March 21, 1990 Wall
Street Journal, she wrote: "Namibia has been pressing for
direct grants from foreign governments rather than private investment --
so long as these grants are available for use at [the ruling South West
Africa People's Organization's] complete discretion...Although SWAPO has
failed to welcome private investors, it is generating many new jobs in
the public sector -- jobs that are available only to SWAPO party
members...[This] may be intended to swell SWAPO's voting rolls in time
for the upper chamber elections next year." Calhoun quoted Moses
Garoeb, SWAPO's party boss, saying "the multiparty democracy
prevailing in Namibia is not necessarily the true choice of the Namibian
contacted Today Executive Producer Jeff Zucker's office.
Zucker's spokesman, Lynn Appelbaum, downplayed TransAfrica's influence,
saying that the research for the show was "extensive" and
Trans-Africa was only one of "a number of organizations"
consulted. Appelbaum wouldn't comment on why the group warranted an
on-air thank-you from Gumbel. When asked if MediaWatch
could have a list of the sources NBC used, Appelbaum replied:
"No...There have been so many researchers working on this...The
list is so long...We believe our reporting was fair."
TransAfrica painted a different picture
of their role. A spokesman told MediaWatch
that Gumbel initially approached TransAfrica. He explained: "We
suggested research that he should look at before he goes [to Africa]...[Gumbel]
had discussions with Mr. Robinson...We gave him information on the human
rights [and] political and economic situations...For this show he
contacted us on different issues to see where he should go."
The spokesman, who asked not to be
identified, confirmed that Gumbel made two visits to TransAfrica's D.C.
offices. Gumbel knew TransAfrica from at least 1990, when he served on
dinner committee during Nelson Mandela's tour of America. The event
raised $340,000 for TransAfrica.
There is no evidence Gumbel consulted any
conservative sources, such as the International Freedom Foundation or
the National Center for Public Policy Research. Today should be
applauded for attempting to educate the public about parts of the
continent beyond South Africa. But by providing only one point of view, Today
did more to propagandize than educate.
Add Washington Post Ombudsman Joann Byrd to the growing list of
those conceding the media favored Bill Clinton over George Bush.
Reviewing "73 days of the Post ending election day,"
Byrd discovered: "Of 813 pictures, headlines and news stories, 184
were negative either for or about Mr. Bush or, I thought, more negative
than positive. (Also record that almost as many -- 175 -- were
positives.) But against that, 195 elements were positive, or mostly so,
for Gov. Clinton, and only 52 were negatives." That's more than
four times as many negatives about Bush than Clinton.
In her November 8 column, Byrd also
reported: "Of 138 elements about George Bush on the front page, 80
-- 58 percent -- were negatives. Mr. Clinton was the main focus of 61
pictures, headlines and stories on the front page, and only 17 -- 28
percent -- were negatives."
More Media Liberals.
Another year's gone by and yet another poll of journalists has proven
the profession is more liberal than the rest of society. A survey of
1,400 journalists across the country found 44 percent consider
themselves Democrats, up from 38 percent in 1983 and 35 percent in 1971
as determined by similar surveys. In contrast, the Freedom
Forum-sponsored poll by Indiana University professors David Weaver and
G. Cleveland Wilhoit found the number of Republican reporters fell from
25 percent in 1971 to 16 percent this year. Another 34 percent call
themselves independent. Compared to the general population, that makes
journalists 5 to 10 percentage points more likely to be Democrats and 10
to 15 points less likely to be Republicans.
Weaver and Wilhoit found "minorities
are much more likely to call themselves Democrats than are white
journalists, especially blacks (70 percent), Asians (63 percent) and
Hispanics (59 percent). There is a wide gender gap for political party
identification, with women journalists (58 percent) being much more
likely than men (38 percent) to prefer the Democratic Party."
Time's French Kisses.
Time magazine still thinks public spending equals compassion,
therefore socialism must be love. In the November 9 edition, Associate
Editor Jill Smolowe's "Where Children Come First" compared
France and the United States on social policy. Guess which won?
"Instead of just talking about family values, France offers a wide
range of programs from the cradle to the grave to promote a more stable,
equitable, and caring society."
Then Smolowe shamed Americans for not
loving their children the French way -- through confiscatory tax rates
and big-spending, socialized government: "French workers pay 44
percent of each paycheck to ensure the wide range of family-related
services... The French are more willing than Americans to put their
money where their values are, largely because they have a heightened
sense of their children as conservators of their family traditions and
And to complete the article, Smolowe
implied opposition to welfare spending is rooted in racism: "The
American tendency to discredit such assistance as welfare handouts owes
much to its ethnic diversity...Because the population in France and
other European countries tends to be more racially and culturally
homogeneous, there is less of an us-vs.-them mentality."
"Everyone knows the rich got richer in the 1980s. Now a new study
shows how dramatic the change was," Dan Rather began a brief
October 29 Evening News story. The next morning on Today,
Margaret Larson promoted the same study, referring to the
"non-partisan Economic Policy Institute" whose
"independent study" revealed that during the 1980s "the
top one-half of one percent of this nation's families received 55
percent of the total increase in wealth. The concentration of wealth is
seen as the most extreme since 1929."
Though data from the Census Bureau
clearly refute the EPI's findings, no such counterpoint was provided on
either CBS or NBC. Deceptively, neither network properly identified
their source. One of the Economic Policy Institute's founders, economist
Robert Reich, advised Governor Clinton on economic policy during the
election. Reich currently heads the Clinton transition's economic policy
team, and is expected to be a key economic adviser in Clinton's
administration. Jeff Faux, a founder and the current president of the
Economic Policy Institute, acted as an advisor on economic policy to
Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign.
Conscience for Justice?
In the November 23 issue, Newsweek Senior Writer David A.
Kaplan advised how to pick the next Attorney General. In "No More
Hacks or Cronies," Kaplan told of when current Massachusetts Gov.
William Weld worked at the Justice Department, he hung a picture of
Robert F. Kennedy on his office wall. "For Weld (a Republican), RFK
was the model A.G. -- committed to law, animated in temperament and able
to manage the mammoth bureaucracy." Kaplan noted Meese disapproved:
"It figures. Meese ran a Justice Department that was the Land of
Hackdom -- little more than an agency to service the needs of President
Reagan and, occasionally, of the A.G. himself. His four-year reign was
the archetype of politics over conscience, ideology over law."
Kaplan urged "Clinton, for a change, should pick an Attorney
General who is above politics."
"I think it's odd for anyone to hold
up Kennedy as a model." former Reagan Justice Department spokesman
Terry Eastland told MediaWatch. Newsweek
carried a picture of RFK captioned "Conscience of justice."
But Kaplan failed to mention this is the same conscience that bugged
Martin Luther King's hotel rooms.
Crying Over Colorado.
The anti-gay rights referendum in Oregon generated a lot of media
attention in the weeks before it lost. But a similar, little-noticed
Colorado measure passed, much to the distress of NBC.
On the November 14 NBC Nightly News,
Roger O'Neil reported from Denver: "Stunned and angered at voters
who said no to homosexual rights laws here, gay rights activists are
urging others to boycott Colorado...Business owners have reported that
gay bashings have been on the rise since the vote...A place of hate, or
a place of understanding? Tonight, that question is still being debated
in Colorado." O'Neil's report highlighted the protest effort
against the vote, and allowed five gay rights supporters, which included
noted author and activist Armistead Maupin, two leaders of homosexual
activist groups, and a member of the Denver Human Rights Division, to
speak on camera. Despite the fact that the referendum passed the state
with a surprising majority, O'Neil could not seem to find even one
person who supported the vote.
Another AIDS Scare. The
campaign to frighten the public about AIDS continues. When a new study
of sexual activity funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health
and Aging was released, CNN reacted with a mixture of misused statistics
"It's just a matter of time before
AIDS becomes widespread among heterosexuals. That's the conclusion of
the largest national sex survey in more than 40 years," anchor
Susan Rook predicted on the November 12 World News. Reporter
Brian Jenkins warned: "Most sexually active American adults may be
turning their backs on warnings about the spread of AIDS." He
continued: "Researchers questioned more than 10,000 Americans...The
study found that among the 7 percent of adults who said they had
multiple sex partners, only 17 percent used condoms all the time...Some
people find those figures stunning."
On closer inspection, the study
questioned 10,630 people. In that group, 7 percent said they had
multiple sex partners, which whittles the group down to 744 people. Of
that sexually hyperactive group, 83 percent said they didn't use condoms
all the time. So Susan Rook based her frightening "just a matter of
time" statement of an impending epidemic not on clinical evidence,
but on the responses of 618 people in a telephone poll.
In a piece about AIDS and the media in
the August 10 New Republic, Michael Fumento pointed to a
declining rate of infection. "The number of reported AIDS cases
this year is running 4.5 percent ahead of last year. Reported cases last
year were a mere 5 percent higher than the year before. These
encouraging figures have not been reported." Not
Sticking Up for Hiss.
During the last week of October, Russian General Dmitri Volkogonov
reported that he found no evidence that Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy. Newsweek
crowed that "Alger Hiss is still on trial in America. Was he a spy,
a member of a secret Communist cell who passed along confidential State
Department reports to the Soviets? Or was he a statesman framed by the
fanatical Right, a wanton sacrifice to the careers of Sen. Joseph
McCarthy and Rep. Richard Nixon?" On the October 31 Today,
co-host Scott Simon lectured: "This week's revelations about Alger
Hiss may help us remember how vulnerable something as real as a
reputation may be...So Mr. Hiss may have lived long enough to feel
vindicated, but no one lives so long that they have years to give away
to suspicions and mistakes."
Former USIA official Herbert Romerstein,
in the November 28 Human Events, pointed out a key detail that
the media failed to report: "Although the [New York] Times
had reported that General Volkogonov had inspected 'all Soviet files,'
the historian subsequently revealed that he had done no such
thing." Romerstein confronted the General after his testimony
before the Senate: "I asked [Volkogonov] what archives he examined
to draw his conclusion that Hiss was innocent...His response...was that
he had not examined any archives. Instead, he had asked Yevgeny Primakov,
the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (formerly the KGB),
to provide him with the information." Columnist William F. Buckley
added: "The overwhelming case against Alger Hiss is documented by
Professor Allen Weinstein in his book Perjury...judged as
dispositive of the Hiss case by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who
was not a McCarthyite."
Tamposi Tempest. Just
like they crucified John Sununu, The Washington Post spent
October and November prodding the rest of the media with front-page
non-stories about Elizabeth Tamposi, a Sununu ally. Tamposi led the
State Department search of Bill Clinton's passport records. The Post
dedicated twelve front page stories to the Tamposi story from October 14
to November 19, On November 14, The Post led their front page
with the scoop that Tamposi had passport files brought to her at home.
But what about special prosecutor
Lawrence Walsh's election-eve reindictment of Caspar Weinberger? The Post
has done only one front-page post-election Walsh story and it cribbed
heavily from the previous day's Washington Times. The Post
has yet to launch its own investigation into the Walsh story. They also
downplayed the General Accounting Office's (GAO) report on Walsh's
financial practices earlier this year, including his dual offices and
large expense-account tab (including $75 breakfasts at the Watergate).
This could still be a good story, but the Post must think it's
more fun hounding the loser.
Networks Select One
"Year of the Woman" Over Another
1990: YEAR OF THE IGNORED WOMAN
Pundits dubbed 1992 "The Year of the
Woman," and the national media hailed the new phenomenon, spurred
by the outrage "many women" felt over the Senate Judiciary
Committee's treatment of Anita Hill and her unproven testimony. The
number of women did swell noticeably in both houses of Congress, but
this wasn't the first "Year of the Woman." In 1990, seven
Republican women and two Democrats made the ballot in November for the
U.S. Senate. That's almost the opposite of 1992, when ten Democrats and
one Republican ran.
Did media outlets pay more attention to
women Senate candidates in 1992 than they did in 1990? To find out, MediaWatch
analysts surveyed campaign stories on four evening newscasts (ABC's World
News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's Prime News or
World News, and the NBC Nightly News), and the three
national morning shows (ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This
Morning, and NBC's Today). The difference was stunning. In
1992, the evening newscasts aired 29 stories exclusively devoted to
women Senate candidates. In 1990, there was one, on election night. In
1992, the morning shows interviewed women Senate candidates on 26
occasions. In 1990, there were no interviews.
Beside the partisan differences between
the two slates, increased news coverage in 1992 could be partially
explained by the heightened news value of the 1992 Senate primaries.
Both Carol Moseley Braun in Illinois and Lynn Yeakel in Pennsylvania
achieved stunning upsets over male opponents. Barbara Boxer's
come-from-behind win in California provided the historical opportunity
of the first two-woman Senate delegation.
By contrast, the Republican women running
in 1990 faced little or no primary opposition. In addition, 1992 boasted
a presidential campaign, while 1990 was an off-year election in the wake
of a major budget accord and the massive deployment of U.S. troops in
the Persian Gulf.
In 1990, women Senate candidates couldn't
buy themselves a news story. The only story devoted to the trend of
female candidates came on the November 5 CBS Evening News. Reporter
Edie Magnus spotlighted five women, four of whom were Democrats. Jim
Wooten filed a report on Illinois that same night, noting at the very
end that Democratic incumbent Sen. Paul Simon was "comfortably
ahead" of then-Rep. Lynn Martin, a Republican.
Two days earlier, CBS reporter Bob
Schieffer did mention GOP candidates Martin, Patricia Saiki, and
Claudine Schneider, but only to note how they were endangered by
anti-Republican sentiment. On October 29, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell
devoted a whole story to one female candidate -- Rep. Jill Long (D-IN).
Women weren't completely ignored. The
gubernatorial campaigns of Democrats Dianne Feinstein in California and
Ann Richards in Texas drew six and seven evening news stories,
respectively. But while Republican women were ignored by reporters,
David Duke's Senate campaign received 12 evening news reports; Ohio
Congressman Buz Lukens and Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jon
Grunseth, both derailed by charges of sexual abuse, gained another 11
stories, which might say something about the Republican image the
networks prefer to project.
In 1992, women Senate candidates were
much more visible. In addition to their 26 morning appearances, they
also made four appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, and one on
ABC's Nightline. They gained visibility from the party
conventions. In addition to the Democrats' Tuesday night spotlight of
their candidates, the networks also interviewed them on seven occasions
during convention coverage. Three of them -- Carol Moseley Braun, Patty
Murray, and Gloria O'Dell -- appeared on CNN's Inside Politics.
This left only one question: where was
Charlene Haar? The only Republican woman running for the Senate in a
long-shot race against Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Haar made one
appearance on Inside Politics, but otherwise went ignored by
CBS aired segments on women candidates
twice without a Republican, on the June 11 CBS This Morning (Rep.
Barbara Boxer, Lynn Yeakel, and Jean Lloyd-Jones), and the Sept. 6 Face
the Nation (Braun, Feinstein, and Yeakel). One qualifying note: A
closer look at the morning show appearances by the female Senate
candidates also showed the majority of their appearances -- 15 of 26, or
58 percent -- occurred in the wake of their primary or general election
In their repetitive descriptions of the
outrage "many women" felt at the 98 percent-male Senate, none
of the networks explained that two of the Senate Judiciary Committee's
Democratic members, Sen. Paul Simon and Sen. Herb Kohl (WI) were
challenged by woman candidates in their last election. Neither woman
candidate merited one entire network news story during their campaigns.
It's failures like this that suggest the networks care as much about the
party of the candidate as their gender.
Now, the network newscasts have failed to
follow up on the new Senators' campaign promises. After all the outrage
over the all-male Judiciary Committee, none of the new female Senators
wanted to be named to it, preferring committees like Appropriations to
secure money for their home states, just like the men. Despite the TV
hype, it seems these "agents of change" are conducting
business as usual. Unfortunately, so are the networks, promoting the
fortunes of Democrats rather than being tough on both parties.
the Bright Side
In contrast to the typical media call for
increased government spending to solve every problem, ABC's weekly World
News Tonight "Your Money" segment by John Martin has
assailed wasteful, pork barrel government spending since it began
On November 23, referring to the Liberty
Science Center, a New Jersey educational center funded by over 100
corporations, Martin noted that "despite criticism that the money
wasn't needed" the New Jersey congressional delegation "got
Congress to add $15 million dollars to the Pentagon budget, and ordered
it spent on Liberty."
Another Martin report, on October 19,
exposed House Minority leader Bob Michel's exertions on behalf of his
hometown of Peoria, arranging for the forgiveness of a $5 million
federal loan to the city. Martin explained that Michel "wrote a
bill that, in effect, gave Peoria the money it owed by forgiving the
In other reports Martin brought to light
wasteful government spending projects such as pickle research, federal
honey subsides, Secret Service protection for ex-Presidents long out of
office and their relatives, unneeded radio transmitters in Israel, and
cost overruns on Army Corps of Engineers projects.
Network reporters are still presenting
statistically unsupported scare stories on hunger. On the November 26 NBC
Nightly News, reporter Bob Herbert compared the current economic
time to those of the Great Depression: "Hunger in America was
supposed to be a thing of the past. Soup kitchens. Bread lines. Modern
times brought great prosperity, but something curious happened. Hunger
never took the hint. It never went away....Hunger driven by hard
economic times is once again on the march in America. Millions go hungry
After providing testimony from Rep. Tony
Hall (D-Ohio) and J. Larry Brown of the liberal Center on Hunger Policy,
Herbert continued: "Hunger is hitting millions of Americans who
once thought they were solidly middle class," concluding that
"during the presidential campaign, Bill Clinton described hunger in
America as a terrible crisis. He was right."
Did Herbert base his report upon a
startling new study? No. In fact, Herbert failed to cite any hard
numbers. Heritage Foundation analyst Robert Rector told MediaWatch
that Americans in the lowest one-fifth of the income ladder are eating
better now than that group did in the 1950s. He added that there is
"virtually no difference" in the average food consumption of
poor children and that of middle class children.
Rector added that according to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture studies, the United States leads the other
major industrialized countries in consumption of meat and the daily
recommended allowance of vitamins and minerals. Indeed, being overweight
is the number one dietary problem of both rich and poor Americans.
Weekend Today co-anchor Scott
Simon responded to the November MediaWatch
article "Simon's Sermons," writing: "In an otherwise
accurate excerpt of my Columbus Day commentary you do not place an end
quotation after the words, "...many people have been asking,
'What's to commemorate in that?'" The sentence that follows --
"Of course race found its way into the discussion:" is not
mine. The sentence after that should have the open quotation preceding
the words, "He sailed just as Jews and Muslims were being expelled
from Spain." Simon is correct.
The letter continued: "This small
error does not misrepresent the commentary, but may cause some
confusion." Simon added that "The essays are introduced as my
own personal opinion, and I hope and believe none of them impair my
ability to function as a fair journalist. I do not see them as hewing to
any particular political line; several have been quite critical of
liberals and Democrats, while admiring of Republicans, conservatives,
and people and opinions of all stripes." A review by MediaWatch
of all of Simon's commentaries since he joined NBC in August, found just
one positive reference to a Republican, Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.
By the way, Simon closed the letter,
"I enjoy reading MediaWatch, and hope
some day to find myself quoted on the On the Bright Side section."
We'll be watching for something that qualifies.
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