Deny Supreme Court Has Any Liberal Justices
The "Slash and Burn" Supremes
Disappointment with the Supreme Court's latest
decisions permeated media coverage as June drew to a close. "The United
States Supreme Court unloaded several pre-Fourth of July bombshells
today," Dan Rather began the June 29 CBS Evening News. "One of the
biggest, a ruling that will make it harder for African-Americans,
Hispanics, and other minorities to win elective office and a share of
Time's Richard Lacayo expressed dismay in the July 10
issue: "When in a single day the court can rule against a black-majority
voting district and in favor of public funding for a Christian student
magazine -- and for good measure approve a cross erected by the Ku Klux
Klan in a public park -- it can't be much fun anymore to be a liberal
Some reporters claimed there weren't any liberal
justices on the court. Washington Post reporter Joan Biskupic wrote on
June 25: "In the current court makeup it is difficult to call any of the
justices liberal, compared to William J. Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, and
On July 3, USA Today Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro
agreed, claiming "Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer form the moderate wing of the court, with
none of them qualifying for the `liberal' label."
On June 28, Mauro called David Souter "a moderate who
votes sometimes as a conservative, other times as a liberal." Ginsburg
"replaced moderate Byron White with a similarly moderate vote." Breyer
"is no liberal; he voted in favor of drug testing." But these same
justices voted regularly on the liberal side of the major 5-4 decisions
-- for racial gerrymandering and set-asides, against term limits and
funding religious publications.
Conservatives remained menacing. Lacayo wrote that
swing votes Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy "met up with Chief
Justice William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas, the
Time National Correspondent Jack E. White attacked
Thomas in a column titled "Uncle Tom Justice." White wrote: "The
scariest of all hobgoblins may well be a fellow African
American....Thomas has emerged as the high court's most aggressive
advocate of rolling back the gains Marshall fought so hard for."
In a less emotional review on June 19, Los Angeles
Times reporter David Savage noted Thomas's statement that the court took
a "wrong turn" in 1937 when it used the interstate commerce clause to
justify the New Deal's broad expansion of federal power: "To modern
ears, his view sounds quaint, even bizarre."
Influencing the World
The desire to influence public policy convinced at
least one college student to pursue a career in journalism.
Specifically, Lissa Muscatine, a Washington Post metro and sports
reporter for 12 years who in 1993 became a speechwriter for President
Discussing her career in the June American Journalism
Review, Muscatine admitted: "I got into journalism because I was
interested in advocacy." She further explained: "I grew up in Berkeley
in an activist family. I saw journalism as my way to influence the
world, or at least some small part of it." But apparently the Post
didn't afford her the level of influence she wanted, so after 12 years,
she realized "temperamentally, I was moving in a direction that I wanted
to be more directly involved in making policy. I wanted to be a
participant and not an observer."
Clintonite to Newsweek
For 12 years Tara Sonenshine served as an ABC News
producer in Washington. Now, six months after leaving her position as
Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for
communications for the National Security Council, Sonenshine has
revolved back into the media. She's now covering national security
issues for Newsweek. A Nightline and then ABC Pentagon producer before
spending a couple of years with Koppel Communications, Sonenshine held
the title of Editorial Producer for Nightline when she departed in early
Having a reporter cover the policies of those she had
as colleagues just months earlier isn't seen as a problem by Newsweek
Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas, but a benefit. He told The
Washington Post's Howard Kurtz: "I wanted to get her under our tent
because she's got good connections and a feel for that world. I don't
have any worries about a conflict."
Sonenshine is not the only member of Newsweek's
Washington bureau with a Democratic background. Douglas Waller, who has
covered national security, defense and foreign affairs since 1988, spent
1985 to 1988 as a Legislative Assistant to then Senator William Proxmire
(D-Wis.). Previously, he was Legislative Director for Congressman Ed
Two from Hill to CNN
The Cable News Network took a bi-partisan approach to
filling two openings in its Washington bureau. Rebecca Cooper, a
congressional producer since 1993, was named weekend field producer.
From 1988 to 1991, Cooper told MediaWatch, she put in a stint with
former Senator David Boren, an Oklahoma Democrat, as a Legislative
Assistant for trade and education issues. After leaving the Hill she
worked in NBC's Washington bureau....
CNN tapped the office of retiring Republican Senator
Hank Brown to fill a producer/guest booker slot, The Washington Post
reported. Jennifer Martin, who had been the Coloradan's Press Secretary,
will book guests for Inside Politics and The World Today.
On May 5 Richard "Max" McCarthy, a Democratic
Congressman in the 1960s and Washington Bureau Chief for the Buffalo
News from 1978 to 1990, passed away at age 67. First elected to the U.S.
House in 1964 from the Buffalo area, McCarthy lost a Democratic primary
for Senate in 1970.
Changing Standards for Gramm
Pouncing on "Porn"
The Washington Post claimed it needed three months to
research the accuracy of Paula Jones' charges of sexual harassment
against Bill Clinton before it could run a story. But when The New
Republic charged that Sen. Phil Gramm was a "porn broker," the Post
jumped on the story on May 18. On June 6, the Post publicized a brand
new article from the far-left magazine Mother Jones charging Gramm
intervened to parole drug dealer William Doyle in 1979. Neither required
months of fact-checking.
ABC also waited three months before airing a full
report on the Paula Jones story. But on May 17, Peter Jennings jumped on
the Gramm "porn" story, beginning the newscast: "Political and legal
problems for three influential politicians in Washington....We begin in
Washington tonight, where the personal and professional lives of three
important politicians are making news. One is the presidential candidate
Phil Gramm. There are questions about a film in which he invested."
After stories on both Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's new independent
counsel and Sen. Bob Packwood's sexual harassment troubles, Jim Wooten's
story put The New Republic's "Porn Broker" headline on screen for a full
Newsweek trashed Paula Jones, using terms like "Dogpatch
Madonna," but ran a Gramm story headlined "Senatorial Skin Flicks" that
dominated page 44. In a two-inch-high box at the bottom, Newsweek
devoted three paragraphs to Ron Brown receiving $400,000 since taking
office from an FDIC-cheating friend.
A number of media outlets described the unmade Gramm
film as a "porn" project, including CNN, PBS, Newsweek, Reuters,
Knight-Ridder, the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Houston
Chronicle, Boston Herald, Sacramento Bee, and the San Francisco
But The New Republic's primary source, former Gramm
brother-in-law George Caton, repudiated the magazine's spin in the May
19 Houston Chronicle: "Where this story has gone haywire is there was no
pornography at all." Mark Lester, the director of the followup film
project, an anti-Nixon spoof titled White House Madness, told CNN on May
17: "I have to laugh. There's no pornography at all in it...I never made
a soft-core movie or a pornographic film."
Experience CBS News: "I'm Watching You Like a
Hawk, You Lying Little Worm"
Engberg's Latest Republican
Thomas Jefferson wrote that "To compel a
man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and
abhors is sinful and tyrannical." Conservatives seek to reform the
government's tendency to award grants to left-wing groups who use
taxpayer money to lobby for more government. For describing this effort
as a spiteful plot to "silence" opponents, CBS reporter Eric Engberg
earned the Janet Cooke Award.
Dan Rather introduced the June 14 story:
"The majority Republicans in Congress believe they've found a new way to
silence their opponents. They plan to do it by cutting off funding for
certain nonprofit groups. CBS News correspondent Eric Engberg has been
investigating for tonight's CBS Evening News Reality Check."
Engberg began: "From mega-battles like
Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination to irritants like the disruption
of a Newt Gingrich speech, nonprofit activist groups are often on the
cutting edge of Washington policy disputes. It infuriates Republicans
that many of these groups are liberal in outlook....It infuriates them
more that many are getting federal money."
He continued: "House Republicans now have
a pet plan for striking back called `defunding the Left.' They're
drafting a bill to severely restrict lobbying by any activist group that
gets federal grant money....Targets include unions, the National Council
of Senior Citizens [NCSC], Planned Parenthood, and environmental
activists, all regarded as opponents of the GOP agenda."
CBS did not explain the extent of the
funding. The NCSC takes 96 percent of its money from the federal
government, $68.7 million, and yet contributed $183,779 to 60 Democrats
running for federal office in the last election cycle. The American
Association of Retired Persons, which fights any entitlement cuts,
received $73 million from the government.
Engberg reported: "Right-leaning advocacy
groups would be largely untouched by the legislation because they
receive little federal aid and often have deep-pocketed backers in the
business world." CBS showed video of the Heritage Foundation, the
Christian Coalition, and the Free Congress Foundation. But do
conservative groups dominate the corporate giving agenda? The Capital
Research Center's 1993 Patterns in Corporate Philanthropy reports that
Planned Parenthood received $425,000 from the top 250 corporations, and
the National Audubon Society received $311,800. The chart is topped by
the National Urban League ($2.6 million) and the NAACP ($1.6 million).
The Heritage Foundation received $262,000 from these top 250
Heritage analyst Marshall Wittman told
MediaWatch: "The greatest inaccuracy is that we receive `little' federal
aid. Heritage and the Christian Coalition -- both have been my employers
-- don't receive a penny. As for corporate money, that's only eight
percent of the Heritage budget, and the Christian Coalition -- we're
talking de minimus." Free Congress spokesman Brad Keena told MediaWatch
corporations account for only seven percent of its budget.
Engberg then aired "government watchdog"
Gary Bass: "This is nothing more than a backdoor witchhunt. I think it's
devious, I think it's disingenuous, and I think it's dangerous." Engberg
did not explain that Bass heads OMB Watch, which the Heritage Foundation
charges is linked with a group called the Unison Institute (awarded
$285,000 last year by the EPA), which shares the same address and fax
number as OMB Watch.
Engberg added: "The GOP faces opposition
not just from left-leaning groups, but also many well-regarded
charities," and aired Alfred Munzer of the American Lung Association.
But in his book Health Research Charities: Image and Reality, James T.
Bennett found the ALA also has a liberal lobbying agenda -- such as
subsidized catastrophic health care and large cigarette tax hikes.
Bennett found the ALA regularly spent less than 4 percent of its budget
on research to cure disease, spending "more than eight times as much on
management and fundraising than it does on research."
Engberg did include two soundbites from
Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.), but introduced him like this: "As Vice
President Quayle's anti-regulation hatchet man, McIntosh tangled with
many of the groups he now wants to muzzle." Engberg charged "Notes from
a strategy session leaked to CBS News quote one congressional aide,
`spin is crucial, this can't just look like an enemies list.'" Jon Praed,
chief counsel to McIntosh's Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, said of
CBS's "notes": "Until and unless the handwritten notes are produced, I
believe the memo is a pure fabrication."
Wittman told MediaWatch he was puzzled by
Engberg's methods: "I talked to him twice. Once, he asked if I used the
word `spin' in the meeting. I said no. Then he said 'What if I told you
I have ten people who said you used the word `spin' in that meeting?' I
said no again, and he replied: `Well, I didn't have ten people anyway.'"
Engberg ended his story: "One Republican
was asked if `defunding the Left' is about government reform or settling
old scores. He replied, `Oh, I'd say it's about 40-60.'" When called to
defend the integrity of his story, Engberg instead yelled insults at
MediaWatch associate editor Tim Graham, referring twice to "your stupid
little newsletter." When asked if conservatives ever used words like
"silence" or "muzzle," Engberg replied: "I thought it was a fair
Engberg fumed at a Graham letter to the
editor in the May American Journalism Review: "You little geek, in this
letter you have lied about me. You are a liar." Graham wrote: "In the
1992 campaign, Engberg regularly attacked the Bush campaign's political
ads, using ungentlemanly words like `lying,' but only produced one story
critiquing Clinton commercials."
On October 5, 1992, Engberg critiqued
Bush's ad on what Americans "could pay" in higher taxes under Clinton.
Off camera, Engberg suggested to Steven Colford of Advertising Age: "The
stacking up of assumptions like this, there's a word we used for that."
Colford replied: "Uh, I think it's lying." Engberg complained: "I never
used the word lying. I said `there's a word we use for that.' I was
trying to get him to say `that's dissembling.'"
Engberg then read salary figures for
Graham and others from the Media Research Center's IRS forms: "Is this
really all you're making from all of Bozell's operations, Timmy?" He
added: "I'm watching you like a hawk, you lying little worm." Before
Graham could finish his questions, Engberg said "You are not only a
liar, you are an incompetent," and hung up.
As Wittman noted: "His story never went
to a liberal group and asked them if they're lobbying for more
government with taxpayer money. We're uncovering this big scam, and
instead of investigating the scam, he's investigating the
Retiring the L Word.
Reporters have finally begun to describe the American
Association of Retired Persons as a powerful lobby with a vast
tax-exempt business empire. But reporters still refuse to put together
the words "AARP" and "liberal." (From 1990 to 1992, not one of 196
stories in four major newspapers attached a liberal label.) The latest
example: USA Today reporter Richard Wolf's June 13 article teemed with
labels for conservative groups, but lacked one for the AARP. Wolf
referred to the AARP's "conservative rivals" three times, and quoted
"James Martin, chairman of the 60-Plus Association, another of the
AARP's smaller, right-wing rivals."
Kings of Pain.
CBS News is quickly becoming the grand marshal in the
parade of spending cut victim stories. Two features on the June 25 CBS
Evening News detailed the destruction of spending cuts, one on federally
funded summer jobs and the other on surplus food programs.
First, anchor John Roberts explained in his "Sunday
Cover" segment that "by next summer, 600,000 teens who turn to the
government for work may find a dead end. Republican members of Congress
want to cut summer jobs funding." He questioned whether teens can find
jobs in the private sector: "Are there really plenty of jobs available
for teens?...Even in Boston, organizers who aggressively seek out summer
jobs for kids in the private sector say they can't make up for the
proposed federal cuts." Teens looking for work may find it in the
fast-food sector. Over six million people work in it, and it is
predicted to grow at 2.5 percent a year in the next few years, Tracy
Thompson reported in the July 2 Washington Post. It's a plentiful source
of jobs but quite demanding compared to the make-work jobs many teens
receive through the federal program.
A story by Diana Gonzalez the same evening focused on
the USDA's surplus food program. Roberts warned: "Time is running out
for another government program, one that gives surplus food to people in
need." Gonzalez predicted congressionally mandated cutbacks in the
program and interviewed people who will have to get their food
elsewhere. She ended on this somber note: "The government says there are
other assistance programs available. But that help might not come soon
enough for those being served at this distribution center, one of many
slated to close at the end of this month."
Better Dead Than Well-Read.
In another instance of lionizing anti-anti-communism,
most of the networks marked the passing of former U.S. Senator Margaret
Chase Smith with praise. On May 29, Katie Couric intoned on the NBC
Nightly News: "Smith, a Republican, was the first woman to serve in both
the House and Senate. She's remembered for being a voice of conscience
during the anti-communist fervor that gripped the nation in the 1950s."
Couric and others in the media have yet to acknowledge
Harvey Klehr's book The Secret World of American Communism. Klehr and
other researchers dug into the Comintern and CPUSA's Moscow archives,
using the Communists' own files, to illustrate that the Soviet Union
used the CPUSA as a front for espionage against the United States. But
that kind of information might lead the viewer to conclude some
"anti-communist fervor" was justified.
Whose Free Ride?
Time Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson dove into
the budget battle with his June 5 advocacy piece titled "Why the
Pentagon Gets a Free Ride." He argued: "As anxious advocates for the
poor and elderly fight to stave off budget cuts, the Pentagon seems
immune." The word "immunity" did not match the accompanying chart, which
showed a real decline in 1996 dollars from just over $400 billion in
1985 to about $275 billion in 1995. That's quite a contrast to programs
"for the poor and elderly" like Medicare and Medicaid, which grew 72 and
132 percent in the Bush years alone.
Kindling for the Class War.
In a May 29 front page story subheaded "Tax, Spending
Cuts May Add to Inequality," The Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein
claimed that "For the last 15 years, the gap between rich and poor in
America has been growing wider." Pearlstein argued "The tax and spending
cuts now moving through Congress are likely to reduce the after-tax
incomes of American families at the bottom of the economic
ladder...while leaving incomes of wealthy Americans largely unchanged."
He declared: "Government data show that since the late 1970s the share
of national income earned by the richest households has been rising
steadily while almost everyone else's shares have declined."
But in the May 10 National Review, Economics Editor Ed
Rubenstein noted that "Americans are all getting richer." He continued:
"Since 1967 the share of households earning $75,000 and above per year
(in 1993 dollars) has more than doubled, from 5.1 per cent to 12.5 per
cent. Middle-income households, far from being squeezed, have been
pushed up." Rubenstein also noted that "real income per person has
soared 60 per cent since 1967."
Karen Arenson of The New York Times took to the front
page June 4 to make the case against Newt Gingrich's call for
dismantling the welfare state and handing its duties to private
charities: "The Speaker's ideas are unworkable because his vision of
what charities do and how they are financed is a page out of Norman
Rockwell, a far cry from reality." Arenson contended that "while most
charities depend on volunteer labor and on billions of dollars in
donations from the public, they are even more dependent on government
money for their survival." She repeatedly quoted heads of charities
dependent on government subsidies who "contend that government not only
has the responsibility to continue to meet the human needs of society,
but that in many fields, is the only entity capable of assuming that
Arenson claimed "some of the tax plans that are under
the most active discussion in Washington now, like a flat tax or a
consumption tax, would actually raise the cost of giving, by reducing
the tax incentive that occurs when donors take their charitable
contributions as deductions on taxes." Arenson noted "charitable
contributions grew in the 1980s, when government cuts were threatened,"
but didn't finish the story. Professor Richard McKenzie noted in The
Right Data: "The annual rate of growth in total giving in the 1980s was
55 percent higher than in the previous 25 years....This occurred at a
time when real tax payments, part of which were intended to serve
charitable goals, were on the rise, and at a time when, because tax
rates fell, the after-tax cost of giving rose."
All Wet on Clean Water.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which
fooled the nation with the Alar hoax in 1989, remains popular with the
the networks. On March 14 Robert Hager promoted a NRDC study and called
them "highly respected." On June 1 Today's Bryant Gumbel hosted NRDC
lawyer Eric Olson. Gumbel summarized: "In the past year, one in five
Americans routinely drank water that failed to meet EPA standards, and
that as many as seven million Americans are getting sick each year from
After pointing out the NRDC's "new" study is simply
publicly available EPA data, Jonathan Tolman of the Competitive
Enterprise Institute told MediaWatch that the EPA methodology misses the
point: "The biggest problem is that many of these water systems are not
adding enough chlorine. In fact, 43 million of last year's 57 million
violations were coliform violations [coliform is a harmless, easily
detectable bacteria that is often an indicator of the presence of
harmful pathogens] which are easily cured through chlorination. What the
EPA is passing regulations on is totally irrelevant to the real health
concerns of people. The EPA has a list of over 80 contaminants they
check for, things that 99 percent of the water systems never even see in
their water. And the EPA must come up with 25 more contaminants every
three years. They just keep adding more and more bizarre chemicals to
the list while ignoring the number one problem, the coliform
But Gumbel suggested Republicans were forcing
Americans to boil water: "This comes at a time when Republicans are
looking to gut the Clean Water Act and also the Safe Drinking Water Act.
What are our options? Are we now forced to boil water because bottled
water is not an economically feasible option for a lot of people?"
Seven years after the Willie Horton ad, it's still
getting saturation play from some liberals. On the June 1 Today, Bryant
Gumbel interviewed David Anderson, author of a book on the ad, Crime and
the Politics of Hysteria. Gumbel's introduction left no doubt where he
stood: "An extremist supporter of Republican presidential candidate
George Bush bankrolled this political ad. Its gut-level attack played to
America's racial fears." Anderson defended Massachusetts' furlough
system, which allowed the rapist and murderer Horton to get out of
prison on a weekend pass. Gumbel approved: "So the policy was good but
Willie Horton was a bad candidate....You spent a lot of time for this
book talking with William Horton. Is the man you found an awful lot
different than Willie Horton of the infamous ad?"
Gumbel managed to out-liberal his liberal guest by
asking a question he thought he knew the answer to: "The facts of race
and crime in this country are pretty clear, but was the ad pretty
racist, did it try to capitalize on racist fears?" When Anderson paused,
Gumbel added: "Let's put it this way -- if William Horton had been
white?" When Anderson answered that Bush supporters still would have
used it, a shocked Gumbel asked "You do? Would it have had the same
impact?" Gumbel ignored the findings of Washington Post pollster Richard
Morin, who in 1992 cited "substantial evidence [negative ads] didn't
work four years ago. Bush's poll numbers in 1988 didn't budge during or
after the Willie Horton ad controversy."
For the March 31 CBS Evening News "Eye on America,"
John Blackstone focused on how House Appropriations Committee Chairman
Bob Livingston (R.-La.) would cut National Endowment for the Arts
funding, which might cancel a grant to his district's Piney Woods Opry:
"Without financial help to keep the show running and keep the recorders
turning, they say these songs will soon be gone, along with those who
But a June 12 Washington Times editorial revealed that
CBS knew the opposite. Opry sponsor Jonathan Bachrack of Abita Lumber
Company explained: "I was interviewed by CBS for a half-hour. I didn't
say what they wanted to hear. They wanted me to say that we need the
federal government's money, and that Bob Livingston is a hypocrite."
Bachrack said he "told the people from CBS that we don't need the
federal government to run a local concert."
Nina's Next Assignment.
Nightline devoted its June 7 program to the sex
discrimination lawsuits filed against the "old-boy network" at the
Central Intelligence Agency. For its initial report, ABC chose as its
reporter Nina Totenberg, the National Public Radio reporter who also
broke the story of Anita Hill's unproven charges.
ABC and Totenberg have ignored another sex
discrimination lawsuit against a federally-funded agency: NPR. The May
25 New York Times noted that NPR reporter Katie Davis filed a $1.2
million lawsuit, adding that "in the 1980s, at least two employees,
including Mara Liasson, the current White House reporter, had threatened
to file sex discrimination cases against the network, but settled with
the network out of court." As Davis told the Times: "They run around and
report all the time on discrimination. But they don't look hard enough
at their own situation."
Today Co-Host Uses NBC Morning Show as Personal
Political Soap Box
Bryant Gumbel, Angry Black Male
When asked in the June 17 TV Guide which three women
with whom he would choose to host Today if Katie Couric and Jane Pauley
were excluded, Bryant Gumbel chose his wife June, Oprah Winfrey, and
"Hillary Clinton, just to tick off the right-wing extremists." A
MediaWatch review of the last four years found Gumbel's editorializing
focused noticeably on right-wing extremists, race relations, and his
ongoing hatred of Ronald Reagan.
Right-Wing Extremists. Gumbel regularly puts
conservatives on an unrespectable fringe, especially social
conservatives. On February 9, 1993, he asked consultant Roger Ailes
about the Republicans: "Rich Bond. As he stepped down as RNC Chair he
had some parting shots for the religious right and fringe fanatics like
Phyllis Schlafly. What did you think of his remarks?" On July 14, 1994,
the Today co-host announced: "We're back in just a moment to talk about
the President's problems with the extremists of the religious right."
The day after the 1994 vote, Gumbel challenged
Rep.-elect J.C. Watts: "You're aligned to a party which owes many of its
victories to the so-called religious right and other conservative
extremists who are historically insensitive to minority concerns. That
doesn't bother you?" The next day, he asked Jack Kemp: "The so-called
Christian Coalition, as you know, is claiming a great deal of credit for
GOP victories across the board. Are you not at all concerned about where
their brand of some would say extremism or intolerance may yet try to
take your party?"
Eight days later, he interviewed Sonny Bono: "You're a
moderate, pro-choice Republican. Are you totally comfortable with some
of the extremists and ideologues that seem headed for the 104th Congress
and may dominate the Republican Party?" On November 23, the NBC star
proclaimed: "With Republicans taking control of Congress in January,
Senator Jesse Helms is slated to be the new Chairman of the Foreign
Relations Committee, a prospect that is embarrassing to many
Republicans. His two most recent outbursts against the President are
just the latest in a long line of outrageous remarks that have earned
Helms the disrespect and disgust of people from coast to coast."
Race. Gumbel took a strident line on race. The L.A.
riots provoked the co-host's anger about the 1980s on April 30, 1992:
"We keep hoping for some good to come out of this. Maybe it might help
in putting race relations on the front burner, after they've been
subjugated so long as a result of the Reagan years." The next day,
Gumbel repeated himself: "During the `80s nobody even talked about it.
It was like everything was fine. If we shut up, it would all go
away...Taking their cues from Washington, most Americans over the past
dozen years have chosen to ignore the issue of civil rights and the
growing signs of racial division."
Seventeen days later, he shifted slightly: "George
Bush has been at the focal point of incidents that have exacerbated race
relations in this country...the Willie Horton affair, for example;
making affirmative action a front-and-center proposal; constantly
discussing welfare as a problem in this country -- things that really
separate the races rather than bring them together."
But Gumbel didn't believe in peace, telling
Knight-Ridder's Marc Gunther on May 13, 1992: "Everyone is quick to want
you to condemn them but some of us are sitting in that position feel
uncomfortable being asked to do that...When the violence was being
perpetrated on these people on an ongoing basis, did America see it?
Certainly not...Black people are being killed by the handfuls in that
area on an ongoing basis, and basically America doesn't care."
On April 15, 1993, Gumbel retained that violent
attitude with Rep. Maxine Waters: "If I'm a young black man in South
Central L.A., where poverty is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing,
I see that Washington's promises of a year ago have gone unfulfilled. I
see that perhaps for a second time, the court's inability to mete out
justice in a blind fashion, why shouldn't I vent my anger?" He lionized
the Black Panthers on February 19, 1993: "The Panthers took up arms in
the midst of the Sixties struggle for social justice. They preached
self-determination...They also preached self-defense, and to that end
took on policemen who brutalized blacks."
Gumbel sympathized with former
criminal-turned-reporter Nathan McCall on March 22, 1994: "Those who say
`just lock them up, throw away the key, incarcerate them, warehouse
them,' whatever, do you think they are even conscious of just how racist
this country is?" He also asked: "It's been written that being black in
America is like being a witness at your own lynching. Why didn't your
experiences make you more resentful than you are today?"
Reagan vs. Clinton. Gumbel's lasting hatred for Ronald
Reagan has been matched by a promotional tone for Bill Clinton. On
January 15, 1992, he said: "Few people personify the greedy me-first
attitude of the Reagan years more than Donald Trump." A week later, he
asserted: "In the Reagan years, economic erosion set in, so much so that
the middle class now finds itself in ever-deepening trouble." Gumbel
asked on March 31, 1993: "In the greedy excesses of the Reagan years,
the mean income of the average physician nearly doubled, from $88,000 to
$170,000. Was that warranted?"
On February 18, 1993, Gumbel asked Al Gore if he would
"remind the nation that it was Ronald Reagan who quadrupled the
deficit?" He repeated the line to Bob Dole on March 2, 1993: "Are you
not guilty of holding President Clinton to a tougher standard than you
did two Republican Presidents who over the last 12 years quadrupled the
national debt?" Gumbel told economist Irwin Kellner on June 2, 1993:
"The Reagan Administration used to boast they created a lot of jobs.
Most of those were menial jobs that were quickly dissipated by a
quadrupled budget deficit."
Gumbel asked author Gerald Swanson in 1993: "I'm not
sure there's a grade low enough for the next one: Ronald Reagan. He
spoke regularly of balancing the budget, but he broke the bank. In
return for his own personal popularity he spent eight years in office
and ran up $1.34 trillion in deficits." He then followed up: "It's early
yet, but for at least trying to address the deficit in a more serious
fashion than anyone in 12 years, what kind of early marks do you give
Gumbel defended Clinton before far-left Mother Jones
Editor Jeffrey Klein on January 7, 1994: "Do you give Bill Clinton
credit for addressing serious issues that went untouched for 12 years --
deficit reduction, gun control, world trade, health care? He has
certainly taken on tough questions and made them not a question of if,
but how much."
the Bright Side
ABC, Meet ABC
MediaWatch gave the May Janet Cooke Award to ABC's Ned
Potter for his April 3 story critiquing House GOP stories of regulatory
excess, such as a rule that requires dentists to keep a log of white-out
bottles they dispose. Two months later, on the June 7 Prime Time Live,
Sam Donaldson offered his own anecdotes, asking: "You want to know who
has the power in Washington to really control your life? Not the
Republicans or the Democrats, but the bureaucrats who write and
administer federal regulations."
Donaldson claimed that "regulations protect us," but
"there are thousands of regulations in the books and many of them don't
work right, which cost people a lot of time and money." A tree care
company was forced to buy 10 gas cans at $230 each because of three
Department of Transportation regulations and one
OSHA regulation. Donaldson added: "Fair enough, but
look here, this five gallon gas can won't fit in a lot of standard chain
saws, so half the gas spills to the ground. And it won't fit in the
carrying compartments in the truck. Now comes the clincher -- it turns
out there was no need to buy these expensive cans after all."
Donaldson found an obscure loophole that allowed a can
that sold for $23.99 to comply with the standards, "but who knew it?"
Apparently not even the agencies that wrote the regulations: "It took
DOT three days to come up with the loophole. It took OSHA six days."
Donaldson ended his story applauding the movement Potter ridiculed: "The
House plans to devote one day a month to rolling back regulations that
don't work. The first such `corrections day' is expected to be held
soon. Help is on the way."
Unreported Human Rights
Although the media cover human rights abuses in
communist China, the country's one-child policy of forced abortion and
sterilization is usually either ignored or given tacit approval as a
weapon in the global fight against "overpopulation." On January 19,
Peter Jennings lamented that China would reach one billion people in
February: "There are laws in China against having more than one child,
but the laws are widely ignored."
Going where the "pro-choice" media fear to tread, John
Roberts explored China's policy on the May 28 CBS Evening News, focusing
on an emigrating couple in the United States. "The couple is claiming
asylum based on China's family-planning policies. Chen says officials
aborted her third pregnancy, sterilized her, then tried to sterilize her
husband. As Congress has documented, such practices are typical." Rep.
Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said: "Forced abortions are often performed very
late in pregnancy, even in the ninth month. The baby gets an injection
of formaldehyde or some other poison into the baby's cranium." Roberts
added: "The Clinton Administration does not consider forced abortion and
sterilization to be grounds for asylum, a reversal from the Reagan and
Bush years. Advocates say the Administration has even tried to block
asylum hearings for political reasons."
So Popular She Lost at the Polls
Ann Richards, NBC Darling
In her new role as weekend co-host of Today, Giselle
Fernandez has acted as if she is also local chairman of the Young
Democrats. On May 20, she asked Labor Secretary Robert Reich: "Why are
we leaving such critical decisions up to the Republicans? Why didn't we
come up with another more, perhaps, realistic deficit reduction budget
On June 18, Fernandez led a syrupy tribute to former
Texas Gov. Ann Richards. "Despite her soaring popularity and role as
queen of the Democratic Party, she was ousted from office in the
nation's sweep to the right. Today, more than half a year since her
surprising defeat, she remains as popular as ever." Fernandez did not
reconcile "soaring popularity" with defeat at the polls. Fernandez
showed Richards' famous 1988 "silver foot in his mouth" attack on George
Bush, but instead of condemning it as divisive or mean-spirited,
Fernandez followed the clip by claiming: "It was her tell-it-like-it-is
candor and winning charisma that not only charmed the hearts of the
nation but made her a powerful force in Washington."
Her loss only made her more endearing, proclaimed
Fernandez: "Six months after her defeat, the light of this Lone Star
legend doesn't seem to have dimmed one bit." Pocketing thousands for
filming a Doritos commercial wasn't cashing in on her fame: "If she's
not hosting talk shows, she's talking to schools or making Super Bowl
ads that prove she has no chip on her shoulder."
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