Networks Ignore Protest Platform, Explicit Sex Talk, & Hate Speech
Gay "Civil Rights"
The networks, which focused on the
supposedly "extreme" and "divisive" speeches during
the Republican convention, had a clouded lens when covering the April 25
gay march. Instead of examining its content and demands, reporters
emphasized the mainstream elements and adopted the liberal view of it as
a "civil rights" march.
Indeed, ABC World News Sunday
anchor Carole Simpson called it "one of the biggest civil rights
demonstrations ever staged in the nation's capital." On MacNeil-Lehrer,
Judy Woodruff said they gathered "to demand freedom from
discrimination." NBC's Linda Vester echoed the official line on Nightly
News: "Organizers had a long list of demands. The top three:
civil rights protection, an end to the ban on gays in the military, and
more funding for AIDS research."
Among platform demands the networks
ignored: "The re-definition of sexual re-assignment surgeries as
medical, not cosmetic, treatment," and in schools, a
"culturally inclusive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
Studies program ...at all levels of education."
Those watching C-SPAN saw the
"diversity" of march-sanctioned entertainers. A male duo, one
wearing a dress, sang about the Army. "It's as if they're afraid
we're going to be demanding blow jobs in the showers...It's blow dryers
we want" asserted one as the other sang: "Obey orders, and be
disciplined!" A "big dyke" comedian had a deaf translator
sign an orgasm, and another imitated cunnilingus. All but CNN Prime
News, which showed a man in drag, ignored this.
But what about the bigotry that came from
speakers? Akiko Carver, an ACT-UP activist, offered this invective:
"This is the military that...killed, raped, and tortured thousands
in Vietnam, as well as Korea and Grenada, and bombed and placed inhumane
sanctions on Iraq that killed over 200,000 people. So if this is your
country, it's because you're white." Racist? As for
"extremism," she exulted: "We won't fight for true
liberation because that would mean fighting against capitalism."
Gay activist Urvashi Vaid attacked
"Christian supremacist leaders" like Bill Bennett, Pat
Buchanan, and former Quayle aide William Kristol (who's Jewish):
"On one side are the values that everyone here stands for. You know
what those values are? Traditional American values of democracy and
pluralism. On the other side are those who want to turn the Christian
church into the government....Our opponents believe in monotheism. One
way, theirs....One nation supreme, the Christian white one."
ABC's Jack Smith conveniently found:
"What brought homosexuals to Washington...was the gay-bashing at
last year's GOP convention."
Attorney General Janet Reno's choice to
deliver her message to the public: Carl Stern,
long-time NBC News Supreme Court and legal affairs reporter. In early
April, Reno named Stern Director of Public Affairs, a position that does
not require Senate confirmation. Stern's been with NBC News in
Washington since 1967.
He should fit in well with the new
Democratic administration. In 1988 Stern referred to William Brennan,
Thurgood Marshall and Harry Blackmun as "liberal justices,"
but to Antonin Scalia as "ultra-conservative." When Bush
nominated David Souter in 1990, Stern reported "Judge Souter's
given high marks for intellect, but marks that are not so high for a
rather narrow view of constitutional rights...there are a number of
cases that some groups will regard as troubling, in the church-state
area, in the women's rights area, in the age discrimination area, a
certain insensitivity will certainly be explored at length in the Senate
reported last month, former Bush Administration Defense Department
spokesman Pete Williams joined NBC News just before
Stern left. In true revolving door fashion, Washington Bureau Chief Tim
Russert (former counselor to Mario Cuomo) assigned Williams to cover
Stern's old beat at the Justice Department.
NBC's hiring decision didn't sit well
with Newsday TV critic Marvin Kitman. In a
March 29 column, Kitman charged: "Williams was one of the
architects of the most reprehensible press censorship policies we've
ever had....He was a champion of those two Georges -- Bush and
Orwell." A bit later, Kitman raved: "It's a natural fit in a
way. Here is a network news division that has blown up a truck in a
story that winds up making GM look innocent. And in one of its first
public acts after drafting a list of reforms to restore its credibility,
hires a man who was paid for seven years to lie to the public."
Still raving, Kitman concluded: "The
oddest thing is that nobody batted an eyelash at the hiring announcement
on March 18. The most reprehensible act of the decade, and nobody
protests or even cares. The barbarians are in the gate, for Pete's
called Kitman to ask whether he was similarly enraged when David Burke,
Chief of Staff to Senator Ted Kennedy during Chappaquiddick, was named
President of CBS News in 1988. Or when Tom Johnson, Deputy Press
Secretary to Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War, became President of
CNN in 1990. Kitman's assistant said she didn't recall any such columns,
but would pass along the message. Kitman did not call back.
White House Advancement
Anne Edwards, Director
of the White House Television Office for Jimmy Carter, is back in the
White House press office. She now oversees the press advance operation,
making press arrangements for presidential trips.
Since her last trip through the White
House gate she spent four years as a CBS News Washington bureau
assignment editor, followed by a stint with the Mondale-Ferraro
campaign. Mondale's loss sent her back to the media as a Senior Producer
with National Public Radio. Last year she headed the Clinton-Gore
campaign press advance operation.
Brock Book Bias
Last July 5, NBC Sunday Today
co-host Mary Alice Williams interviewed Newsday reporter
Timothy Phelps, one of two reporters who outed Anita Hill's unproven
allegations against Clarence Thomas, about his new book on the hearings,
Williams did not challenge Phelps, but
asked him to explain how Thomas was unqualified for the Supreme Court:
"Everyone remembers the sexual harassment charges, the racism
charges. Were any of Clarence Thomas's real qualifications ever
examined?" And: "In your book, you say that the White House
organized women's groups to support Thomas and that that was somehow
manufactured. Can you tell us about that?"
On May 3, 1993, Today co-host
Katie Couric interviewed David Brock, who has picked Hill's case apart
in a new book, The Real Anita Hill. But instead of having him
on alone like Phelps, Today forced Brock to share the
ten-minute segment with Hill defender Charles Ogletree, who trashed the
book: "It's a great piece of fiction, but he doesn't deal with
fact. He makes countless errors of fact, he tells outright lies, he
refers to statements that have been proven false. And it's a dupe. I
think the most important thing is that journalists should take a look at
David Brock's book and find out about the real David Brock."
Today co-host Katie Couric also
questioned Brock's bias: "You do, though, Mr. Brock, have some
innate biases, don't you? I mean The American Spectator [where
Brock's revelations first appeared] is an ultraconservative magazine,
and it seems as if you are an advocate for Justice Thomas in the book.
Is it really fair to call yourself an objective journalist?"
Mary Alice Williams never asked Phelps
that question, even though his book Capitol Games used terms
like "far right," "radical right," and
"ultraconservative" to describe Thomas and his supporters on
Phelps also appeared with fellow leak
beneficiary Nina Totenberg on Today's two-hour Hill-Thomas
special last October 6, but Brock was not invited. In fact, Today
interviewed no defender of Clarence Thomas in the studio during the
CNN's Ken Bode Throws
Allegations At GOP Without Airing Response
To take advantage of its all-day news
schedule, CNN added a Special Assignment unit to prepare unique
investigative reports. Unfortunately, some reports aren't unique or
investigative, but long reports with the same faults as the other
networks -- simplistic editorializations in ten minutes instead of two.
Ken Bode's April 12 report was just such a failure, earning our Janet
Bode selected an increasingly popular
target, the Reagan and Bush Justice Departments: "For the last
decade, the Justice Department was an ideological warehouse for
conservative thinkers. At the same time, Justice became a political arm
of the White House." Bode aired sound bites from Donald Ayer, a
disgruntled former Justice official, and Joe Biden, chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Committee. Bode explained: "The Department of
Justice will always reflect the policy priorities of a President, but
the Reagan-Bush Department went further, undermining laws the
Former Justice official Paul McNulty
replied to MediaWatch: "What about the
1960s? Was the Johnson administration politicized because it
'undermined' racist laws? In the 1980s, we wanted to bring on reforms as
well -- to correct oppressive regulation, restore a sounder reading of
the Constitution, question discriminatory civil rights laws. Every
administration is suppose to advocate policies in legislation and in
Bode never mentioned that the Clinton
Justice Department is seeking to "undermine" the Federal
Advisory Committee Act, declaring that Hillary Clinton is not a
"non-government employee" so her task force can meet in
secret. When asked about this contrast, Bode told MediaWatch:
"There's nothing wrong with trying to change the laws. But in the
last 12 years, when they lost a test, they went shopping for
jurisdictions to try again, and in the meantime, refused to enforce the
laws, saying a challenge was pending."
Bode caricatured the GOP record:
"The Reagan-Bush agenda included a hard line on abortion, a
rollback on civil rights -- trying to restore tax credits for segregated
schools, for example -- also attempts to minimize affirmative action
requirements." To explain this, Bode brought on liberal Ralph Neas
of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. He aired no one defending
As further proof of politicization, Bode
argued: "On the notorious S&L scandal, there was tough talk,
but lax enforcement. A government audit [by the General Accounting
Office, an arm of Congress] now shows that two-thirds of those S&L
cases have been dropped by federal prosecutors or the FBI. Of the 850
fines the government won for bank fraud, it has collected less than five
Bode aired no one to defend the GOP
record. "They never gave us a chance on that," former Bush
Attorney General William Barr told MediaWatch.
"The GAO privately acknowledged they had to come up with something
negative [on the S&L prosecutions]. The reason it took so long was
because every time they had a theory, it was shot down."
As to Bode's charge of lax enforcement,
Barr responded: "We were prosecuting thousands of people in a very
short time. We had a good record of convictions. Just because there's a
criminal referral doesn't mean there's a criminal case." And the
fines? "That's a red herring. The very nature of the fraud was
either the dissipation of assets or puffing up the value of assets that
they didn't have. The nature of the fraud was lack of value. So how do
When asked why Barr and the other
Attorneys General weren't in his story, Bode said Ed Meese and Richard
Thornburgh were called, but Barr was not, "at least as far as I
know," since Bode said a number of producers worked on the story.
"I'll admit that it should have been done."
Bode's story also charged the Republicans
with a racist pattern of prosecutions: "Another tactic which
politicized Justice -- selective enforcement of the law. Democrats, and
especially black mayors and Congressmen, believe they were targets of
Republican U.S. Attorneys with political motives." Bode cited (and
aired) Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, Rep. Floyd Flake, and even
white Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. Bode brought on none of the
prosecutors or former Justice Department officials for the other side of
this conspiracy theory.
When asked why, Bode explained that he
did a major special report for CNN and even a special Larry King
Live on the subject "two years ago, and I gave ample time for
the other side to defend themselves." When MediaWatch
suggested that a two-year-old story doesn't balance last night's news,
Bode responded: "We had a lot of arguments about this [section on
racist prosecutions]. Producers here thought it was too long. You
thought it was too short."
pointed out that black Rep. Harold Ford pressed the Clinton Justice
Department to dismiss the jury in his case, which they did, causing a
U.S. attorney to resign in protest. Bode explained "Harold Ford was
left out of the story because the trial was coming to an end at that
time and we didn't want to conflict with other news stories on that
Paul McNulty told MediaWatch:
"What's missing here is that decision-makers in these prosecutions
are career people. The Justice Department has 95,000 employees. Only 135
are Washington-based political employees. Another 200 are U.S. Marshals
or U.S. Attorneys. All the investigators are career FBI agents or career
assistant U.S. attorneys."
Bode's story moved on to Clinton:
"Clinton's first public office was Attorney General of Arkansas. He
was aggressive, high- profile, populist...If the Justice Department will
reflect President Clinton's policies, expect the new attorney general to
be much stronger on civil rights enforcement, pay attention to
environmental laws, support the rights of children, and a continued
emphasis on crime and public safety." Bode aired no one taking
issue with Clinton's years in Arkansas or his present policies.
Bode ended on a properly even-handed
note, suggesting that Janet Reno's firing of 93 U.S. attorneys
"raises suspicions that the Clinton administration is willing to
put politics above enforcing the law." Bode let fired U.S. Attorney
Jay Stephens charge politics were involved in taking him off the
investigation of House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski. He also
concluded that the Rostenkowski probe "has become a highly visible
test of how political the Justice Department will be under Bill Clinton
and Janet Reno." But Bode interviewed Reno and let her declare
herself non-political in three soundbites. That's very unlike his
treatment of Reagan-Bush officials, who were simply left out.
Eleanor and Evidence.
Newsweek reporter Eleanor Clift, a passionate defender of
President Clinton on The McLaughlin Group, penned an April 5
story deploring improper Secret Service gossip about catfights between
the Clintons: "There is no evidence to support any of the
stories...living in the fishbowl is hard enough without worrying about a
Secret Service that can't keep mum."
This is a very different Eleanor than the
one who lavishly praised Kitty Kelley's book of unproven gossip about
Nancy Reagan in the April 15, 1991 Newsweek: "If privacy
ends where hypocrisy begins, Kitty Kelley's steamy exposť is a
contribution to contemporary history. The revelations about the First
Lady's `promiscuous' lifestyle as a Hollywood starlet, her `intimate
relationship' with Frank Sinatra and her eagerness for daughter Patti to
undergo an abortion expose the cracks in the Reagans' family-values
According to Boston Globe reporter Nathan Cobb, jokes at Dan
Quayle's expense are fine, but Hillary Clinton jokes reflect male
anxiety. On the front page of the April 6 Globe, Cobb posited:
"Not since the days of Dan Quayle -- has it really been two months
already? -- has a national political figure been such a triple star of
joke, one-liner and song as is Hillary Clinton." He then warned:
"Not everyone thinks it's funny. Hillaryesque humor is seen by some
people as a comment on how many Americans, from TV monologists to
water-cooler wiseguys, are made uncomfortable by a powerful and
Cobb added: "Patricia Ireland is not
amused." Cobb then quoted the NOW leader: "They're trying to
take a threat, and their fear of it, and make a joke. Many men are
threatened by strong women." So, women in the media who derided
Quayle were insecure in their femininity?
Patients' Paradise. On
the April 5 CBS Evening News, Tom Fenton gave American health
care reformers, who often look north to Canada for a role model, another
system for the U.S. to emulate: Germany. "When it comes to health
care, Germany does more for less." How? "Early diagnosis saves
money. So does the bargaining power of the big nonprofit drug
companies," reported Fenton. "Everybody has really free access
to medical care," declared German doctor Bernd Dyckhoff. And the
best part? Fenton asserted: "Germans get full medical and dental
care without ever seeing a bill."
Sounding like a member of Hillary's task
force, Fenton concluded: "As Americans search for a better system,
the lesson from Germany is that private health care can be made
available to everyone, provided all pay their fair share." But
earlier he reported that not everyone does: "The taxpayer pays the
premiums for the unemployed, the elderly, and the poor." It seems
Germans really do see a bill, except it's presented by the government
instead of private doctors.
Raise Taxes I.
"Scratch an Average American and you'll find someone who believes
himself, or herself vastly overtaxed; never mind that the United States
pays far less of its income in taxes than other advanced
countries," argued Marc Levinson in an April 26 Newsweek
piece on "why it's so hard to talk straight about new taxes."
Days after people filed their taxes, Levinson claimed that "many
Americans pay far less than they think" in taxes. Sound familiar?
In an April 13, 1992 article titled "April 15 could be worse:
Believe it or not, Americans' taxes aren't that bad," Levinson told
taxpayers that they "don't have much to complain about" and in
fact "have it pretty good." Levinson also asserted "Taxophobia
has been fanned by an enduring myth" as supply-siders "sold
America on the notion that lower tax rates mean faster economic
growth." Levinson insisted "the purported relationship between
taxes and growth doesn't exist."
Raise Taxes II. Also
aboard the "new taxes can't hurt" band wagon is Knight-Ridder
Washington reporter Robert Rankin. On April 18, he assured Charlotte
Observer readers: "You are probably not going to believe this,
but your tax burden is not getting heavier year after year....As a share
of your income, your taxes have remained remarkably stable for
decades." Rankin insisted "that modern political rhetoric
often has overstated the impact taxes [at the national level] have had
on the nation's economic vitality."
How to overcome the public's anti-tax
attitude? Rankin advised: "Clinton could cite statistical evidence
showing how tax burdens have remained constant until now, and he could
argue that even after his increases they really aren't so high compared
with other advanced nations. But Americans have proved impervious to
such arguments for decades, perhaps because the truth about the United
States' tax burden is hard to comprehend."
Raise Taxes III. MacNeil-Lehrer
NewsHour marked April 15 by focusing on a California town
"suffering anxiety over raising taxes, despite the obvious need to
repair the infrastructure." KQED reporter Spencer Michaels blamed
the problem on the 1978 passage of Proposition 13: "Today, many
politicians blame the measure for a whole litany of civic problems that
fester because of a lack of money....In San Anselmo, officials worry
they will have to cut back fire protection, laying off firemen or
closing the fire station because of a $300,000 shortfall."
When the leader of the South African Communist Party, Chris Hani, was
assassinated, the networks eulogized him as a democrat and buried his
communist ties. On the April 14 CNN World News, reporter Mike
Hanna declared: "At risk now is the very thing that in life Chris
Hani stood for, the peaceful achievement of a democratic majority rule
government in which all the country's people are represented."
Allen Pizzey claimed on the April 18 CBS Evening News,
"Chris Hani preached peace, his legacy may yet be violence."
Preached peace? Hani had been involved in
revolutionary violence since 1967, and in 1982 was named Army Political
Commissar of the ANC, according to A Future South Africa by
Peter Berger and Bobby Gadsell. Reporters ignored Hani's endorsement of
necklacing, the practice of placing burning tires onto the necks of
blacks suspected as `collaborators', and only six of the 25 network
stories on Hani even mentioned that he headed the South African
Communist Party at the time of his death, hardly advocates of
U.S. Ruse. Since
Clinton-friendly economist Paul Krugman left the staff, U.S. News
& World Report economics writer David Hage has taken up
cheering for Clintonomics. Hage described the tax-and- spend Clinton
program as not liberal or conservative, but "a third way that
counts on free markets and fiscal restraint to deliver prosperity while
using government to help the disadvantaged earn their fair share."
In the April 26 story, Hage wrote that Clinton's model is John F.
Kennedy, who helped spur economic growth in the 1960s with broad-based
tax cuts, but Clinton "cannot simply install JFK's fiscal
policies" because deficits are "forcing Clinton to build his
growth strategy around deficit reduction." What reduction?
Clinton's projected deficits are still larger than Reagan's.
But Hage reliably bashed the '80s:
"The richest fifth of American families saw their incomes rise by a
solid 13.9 percent, while the incomes of all other U.S. families
stagnated or declined. And despite Ronald Reagan's radical tax cuts,
economic growth subsided even further, to 2.5 percent annually."
Hage's math failed to explain how the income of the bottom 80 percent
declined when the median family income (the average of all incomes)
increased from 1982-89. While Hage cited 2.8 percent growth for the
1970s, he didn't note that the growth rate for 1982-89 was also 2.8
percent, and inflation as much lower. Why lower growth in the 1980s than
the 1960s? Consider federal spending as a percentage of gross domestic
product: it grew from 18.2 percent in 1960 to 22.3 percent in 1980.
Under Reagan, it declined slightly to 22.1 percent by 1989. Under Bush,
it roared back to an estimated 25.2 percent in 1992. Clinton's
"fiscal restraint" won't lower that number any time soon.
Arnot, Dr. Bob. Infant
health is a serious issue, but Dr. Bob Arnot of CBS isn't too serious
about accuracy. On the April 13 CBS Evening News he charged:
"In all of North and South America, only Haiti and Bolivia have
worse records than the United States for vaccinating young children. As
many as half of the two-year- olds in America are not fully
vaccinated." Arnot neglected to mention that full immunization in
the U.S. consists of five separate vaccines that are injected in over 15
doses from birth to age 6. Ken Allman, a health adviser at the Centers
for Disease Control, told MediaWatch
definitions of "fully vaccinated" vary, with most countries
using a lower standard than the U.S.
To exaggerate another problem, Arnot
excluded the majority from his statistics: "For infant mortality,
America couldn't do much worse. Excluding white newborns, America ranks
70th in the world, roughly the same as Mongolia." According to the
National Center for Health Statistics, infant mortality for black
children was 18.6 deaths for every 1,000 children in 1989, over twice
the rate of white children which was at 8.1. When all races are combined
the U.S. mortality rate was 9.1 infant deaths for every thousand births
for 1989, ranking the U.S. at 21st.
Armed Inequality. On
April 28, Defense Secretary Les Aspin announced an end to the ban on
women in combat. That night, the praise was nearly unanimous. CBS
Evening News Pentagon correspondent David Martin profiled female
pilots who may be flying in combat roles soon. "Lt. Jeannie Flynn
will be the first..until now she has been restricted to this trainer
[plane]. But next month she'll start flying the top of the line F-15E.
For the first time, her sex makes no difference." Martin concluded:
"For the first time, women in uniform have a chance to be treated
But sex does make a difference. Martin
failed to note all branches of the military have different physical
requirements for men and women. The Washington Times reported
the Army requires men to do 40 push-ups in 2 minutes, while women only
have to do 16. In the Air Force, men must run 1.5 miles in 13 minutes 20
seconds. Women are fit if they make it in 15 minutes and 30 seconds.
Advocacy Ads. Time
can't stop promoting the Green agenda, even when promoting itself. In
the February 22 Sports Illustrated, Time had a
two-page ad featuring pictures of polluted skylines, garbage dumps, oil
wells, and traffic jams. Under each photo ran lyrics from the song
"America, the Beautiful." The ad text at the bottom claimed:
"Maybe it's time we changed our
tune. The U.S. seemed oddly off key at the Earth Summit in Rio last
June. With only 5 percent of the world's population, our country uses 25
percent of the world's energy and emits 22 percent of all CO2 produced.
Yet of the 178 countries present, we were the most reluctant to make
meaningful changes." It's not the first Time ad with
ideology. In Sports Illustrated's April 22, 1992 issue, Time's
ad declared "Nature has a cure for everything, except the spread of
Western civilization. Until recently cultural genocide has been a
quietly accepted practice. But times change and so does Time."
Pam's Parties. When
Pamela Harriman, the widow of Averell Harriman and a Democratic patron,
was named US ambassador to France, Beth Brophy of U.S. News &
World Report raved about her "unique qualifications":
"She lived in Paris twice: during finishing school in the `30's and
again in the `40's and `50's." If that weren't enough, Brophy
burbled: "Harriman does have an important ambassadorial attribute:
She throws great dinner parties."
CBS Stands Apart from
Other Networks In Promoting Clinton Stimulus
Selling the "Job Creation
The Republican defeat of President
Clinton's stimulus package drew a great deal of media attention, but the
defeat was hardly unique: the Democrats did the same to George Bush and
his "stimulus" tax cut proposal in his first year.
To compare the TV treatments of the
blocked Bush and Clinton proposals, MediaWatch
analysts reviewed every evening news story (on ABC's World News
Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's Prime News or World
News, and NBC Nightly News) and morning news report (on
ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and NBC's
Today) from the House passage of the bills to their deaths on the
Senate floor (from September 28-October 26, 1989 for Bush, and March
19-April 23 for Clinton).
Analysts found that in 1989, the Bush
plan was never described as a "jobs bill," but simply as a
"capital gains tax cut." So, in 1993 did the networks call the
Clinton bill an "emergency spending-increase bill." No, they
were more promotional: 46 percent of stories used the Democratic term
"jobs bill" to describe the plan, and only 15 percent
explained the GOP opposed the bill as pork-barrel spending.
Unlike Clinton, Bush had not made the
capital gains cut a major initiative (and ultimately dropped it instead
of fighting for it), and it received less attention than Clinton's plan.
Only 17 morning and 16 evening reports mentioned it. But the tone was
unmistakable: Bush and the Republicans wished to shower money on the
CBS eagerly played up the class-war
angle. On September 28, 1989, the night the House passed the tax cut,
anchor Dan Rather announced: "A vote to support President Bush's
idea to cut the capital gains tax cut for the wealthy.
Sixty-four Democrats bucked their own 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 call it simply
a tax giveaway for the wealthy."
On October 5, Rather reported the House
passed a spending bill to "cut capital gains taxes for the
wealthy." When the Bush plan failed on October 25, Rather noted the
cut "would benefit mostly the wealthy."
Of the 33 network reports on the Bush
plan, only two used statistics. Both CBS and NBC relied on Democratic
estimates of who would benefit. On September 28, 1989, NBC reporter
Andrea Mitchell made the Democratic charge that taxpayers making
$200,000 a year would typically receive $25,000 in tax breaks, while
those making $50,000 would get $300. CBS This Morning also
attacked the proposal in an October 5 segment with its then-
"political columnist," Christopher Matthews. Matthews' self-
described "sermonette" claimed 80 percent of the cut would go
to those making over $100,000. Neither mentioned the cut's potential to
Compare that record to 1993. The volume
of stories is larger -- 63 evening reports and 117 on the morning shows.
In the April 19 edition of Newsweek, Eleanor Clift reported:
"Watching reports on CNN, a top aide noted that the network flashed
`Jobs Bill' on the screen each time the impasse was discussed. `We'll
take it,' he smiled, knowing a debate framed by jobs was one Clinton
Once again, CBS set the pattern for bias.
While the other networks described the Clinton package as a "jobs
bill" or "job creation bill" in 31 percent of news
stories, CBS used the terms in 83 percent. The evening and morning
totals were nearly identical.
CBS repeatedly portrayed the heroic
package's holdup as a tragedy. On April 6, reporter Bill Plante hit the
GOP: "At an unemployment office in Fairfax, Virginia, they don't
understand why politics is getting in the way of helping people find
work." On April 21, Dan Rather said: "Clinton's big jobs bill
is still being held prisoner in Congress tonight."
But viewers were reminded of the 1989
blockage only once. On April 5, ABC's Brit Hume recalled: "For the
record, four years ago, Senate Democrats filibustered to block a measure
George Bush said would stimulate the economy -- a cut in the capital
gains tax. The White House claimed the bill would, that's right, create
jobs. Senate Democratic leader Mitchell, who now complains about this
filibuster, led that one, which succeeded."
In only 28 stories (15 percent), the
networks related that the GOP claimed to oppose "pork" or
"wasteful" spending. NBC (63 percent of its evening stories,
35 percent overall) far outdid second-ranking CBS (20 percent). In only
four stories (3 percent), reporters cited examples of pork items in the
stimulus bill, three of them by NBC's Lisa Myers. On the March 30 Nightly
News, Myers read from "wish lists of mayors" including
"swimming pools in eight states, tennis courts in four
On April 7, CBS reporter Bill Plante
cited two examples, reporting that while Clinton sees the projects as
"good for jobs and people, Republicans see [them] as
frivolous." This was the only story in 180 to include the GOP
contention that 20 projects would create no jobs, and another 103 would
create 10 or less jobs each.
Though they outscored ABC (8 percent) and
CNN (10 percent) in mentioning pork, CBS sounded Democratic notes. On This
Morning April 8, co-host Harry Smith asked Sen. Al D'Amato:
"Isn't the pork a small part? Aren't we talking about money for
jobs programs that could be used effectively in New York City?" CBS
also sent Eric Engberg to attack GOP Sen. Phil Gramm as a hypocrite for
opposing pork, but supporting projects in his state. CBS never savaged
Democrats in 1989 who opposed a broad- based capital gains cut, but
supported individual tax breaks for the wealthy in their districts, made
famous by ousted House Speaker Jim Wright.
the Bright Side
Eye on School
In an April 13 "Eye on America"
segment, CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews explained the predicament of
inner-city parents locked in a fight against school bureaucracies:
"Like thousands of parents who find the public school lacking, the
Jenkins want school choice, the system where parents get publicly funded
vouchers to send their kids to private schools. What's unique is that
the Jenkins are part of a wave of recent lawsuits in which poor,
inner-city parents are suing to get their money out of the school
Andrews detailed the desolation of urban
schools that has caused parental action: "These inner-city parents
are arguing that even after years of attempted reform, these inner-city
public schools are still hopeless, that many of them are unsafe, that
most eighth graders still don't read at grade level, and that the
dropout rates are horrific."
The segment also showed the reaction
school choice receives from both sides: the education bureaucrats with
their predictions that vouchers will destroy the public schools, and the
parents who responded, "All this foolishness about it's going to
destroy the public schools. The school system is already
destroyed." Pointing out the hypocrisy of some who oppose school
choice, Andrews noted: "In this era where President Clinton himself
has kept his child out of public schools, the Jenkins will now ask the
Illinois Supreme Court to declare it is their civil right to do the
Where the Jobs Are
Economics reporter Robert Krulwich
answered a question many reporters are asking: Why isn't the economy
creating more jobs? On the April 1 CBS This Morning he
answered: It's the government, stupid.
Krulwich first suggested mandated
benefits might be to blame: "Hiring new workers is expensive...If
you hire a worker, like this yarn worker here, and you pay him $25,000 a
year, after you've added in the standard benefit package -- Social
Security, unemployment insurance, workman's comp, state training,
retirement benefits, paid vacations, sick days, parental leave, and
health -- this worker costs the boss $35,000. That's 40 percent more
than his salary." But he concluded: "Benefits have been
expensive for years and bosses have kept hiring people so something else
is going on."
Krulwich then zeroed in on a big fear of
business owners -- possible new taxes. "Bosses are watching the
President and asking themselves, `What's going to happen when Clinton's
plan goes through?' There's so many costs coming their way."
Krulwich pointed out "Clinton is
proposing: higher corporate taxes, higher income taxes, higher energy
taxes, higher minimum wage, higher working training costs, probably
higher payroll taxes for health. When you look at this list what would
you do if you were a boss? Logic says you wait, right? ...That is
exactly what bosses are doing all over the country."
Save Papers by Making
The New Muckraking
The Washington Post Magazine of
April 18 contained Post media reporter Howard Kurtz's
suggestions for improving America's newspapers -- by making them more
liberal. Among recommendations in the excerpt from his new book,
replacing conservatives with liberals: "Liberate the Op-Ed
pages...we need to restrict the soporific lectures of Henry Kissinger
and Jeane Kirkpatrick and throw open the gates to new, vibrant, even
He complained, "we swarm like bees
into an agency like HUD after the place has been looted, then buzz off
in search of the next calamity." Instead, Kurtz advocated the press
"set the agenda" and cited those sacred liberal cows:
"the Pentagon's $640 toilet seat, or John Sununu's frequent
flying" as evidence the press must "unearth things the
authorities don't want the public to know."
Newspapers must "Turn the writers
loose...when Maureen Dowd of The New York Times cast a
spotlight on sexism in the Senate during the Clarence Thomas hearings,
it was an event that had everyone buzzing." One October 1991 Dowd
story contained quotes from eight angry feminists, but none from Thomas
supporters. That would explain Kurtz's troubling conclusion that papers
should: "Break the shackles of mindless objectivity...If that
amounts to activist journalism, so be it." The problem is, too many
papers have already taken Kurtz's advice.
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