Networks Skip Not
Only Live Coverage, But Also Evening News Summaries
Hearings? What Hearings?
Just as they had all spring, the networks offered
spotty coverage at best of the hearings into Democratic fundraising
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee convened to
consider serious matters: charges that communist China plotted to
illegally funnel money into U.S. politics, and John Huang may have
committed espionage, or illegal fundraising as a Commerce Department
Unlike Watergate, Iran-Contra, or even the first
stages of the O.J Simpson trial, the networks refused to provide live
coverage, not even PBS. CNN and MSNBC coverage trickled to nothing
within the first two days. But the networks had trouble summarizing the
hearings in the evening.
Take ABC. In the first two weeks, World News Tonight
aired only five stories and two anchor briefs. Only one story even aired
a witness soundbite -- for three seconds.
On Wednesday, July 9, ABC subsumed the hearings into a
piece touting President Clinton's new 64 percent approval rating. On
July 10, ABC devoted almost twice as much time to Sen. Sam Brownback's
perceived ethnic slur of John Huang ("No raise money, no get bonus") as
to a vague 23-second hearings update.
On July 13, ABC's Deborah Weiner claimed Sen. Fred
Thompson was overreaching, echoing a U.S. News story suggesting most of
China's money went to legal lobbying. Next, anchor Carole Simpson
plugged an upcoming "look at why average Americans seem to be paying so
little attention to the campaign finance hearings." Maybe because the
networks alternated between dismissing and ignoring them.
When Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Democrats agreed there
was a Chinese plot, ABC skipped the story refuting its claims of a few
days before. NBC's Tim Russert noted the bipartisanship on July 15, to
which Tom Brokaw demanded: "When do you think we're going to begin to
hear more from Republicans...about some of their transgressions?"
The ABC and NBC evening shows ignored the hearings two
nights out of three during the second week. Nonetheless, ABC's Linda
Douglass ended a July 18 story by noting that committee members are
"wondering if the public is paying attention to any of this."
After a July 9 story on the opening statements, the
hearings disappeared from CBS's This Morning without another mention for
two weeks. Good Morning America and Today aired one discussion segment
each in the first two weeks.
Observed Brit Hume of the Fox News Channel, which
offered live coverage, in the July 15 Washington Post: "If this were
Ronald Reagan accused of selling foreign policy to the highest bidder,
it's a little hard to imagine this wouldn't have attracted more
Sidney's Clinton-Loving Slant
Sidney Blumenthal, the former Washington
Post, New Republic and New Yorker reporter, started his new White House
job on July 1. He was picked to "work on major speeches and serve as an
all-purpose message-meister," noted the June 7 National Journal.
Blumenthal insisted in the Feb. 17, 1992 New Republic: "While George
Bush -- all whiteness -- talks about 'family values,' the Clintons
demonstrate them by confessing to adultery."
Even his colleagues realized he's been a
Clinton promoter. Observed the June 23 New Republic: "We are delighted
to note that the noted Democratic journalist Sidney Blumenthal, having
worked so long for the Clinton White House outside the Clinton White
House, will now work for the Clinton White House inside the Clinton
White House." The magazine quipped: "With any luck, one of his
journalistic colleagues remarked, he'll get his back pay."
Indeed, Blumenthal told The Washington
Post's Howard Kurtz: "This is a chance to help change the country. I was
always in journalism because I thought I could help make a difference."
A June 29 Post story reported that while at the New Yorker he began
"brainstorming sessions" with Dick Morris. "Morris said Blumenthal
recommended ideas for staging Clinton at the Democratic National
Convention and for using Clinton's appearances at the Atlanta Olympics
to boost him politically."
Kurtz's June 16 profile included some
illuminating anecdotes about Blumenthal's journalism:
"During the 1992 campaign, says Julia
Reed, a Vogue magazine reporter, Blumenthal urged her at a party not to
write a piece questioning Clinton's character. But what, she shot back,
if it were true? 'It doesn't matter,' she recalls him saying. 'This is
"Peter Boyer, a New Yorker writer, says
Blumenthal tried to sabotage his story about the Travelgate affair last
year. Boyer says he mentioned the piece to his colleague after learning
that Blumenthal had lunched with Clinton's friend Harry Thomason on the
day the Hollywood producer pushed for the firing of the White House
travel office employees....Boyer says he was later told...that
Blumenthal had warned them Boyer was anti-Clinton and planned to smear
"Blumenthal shied away from writing about
his friend Hillary Clinton. 'That's where [Editor] Tina [Brown] finally
said, 'This is untenable,' says a New Yorker writer. By 1995, Blumenthal
was no longer writing the Letter from Washington. He was replaced by
Michael Kelly, a fierce Clinton critic. Kelly ordered Blumenthal to stay
away from the magazine's downtown office. 'I did not trust him...I felt
his relationship...with the President and First Lady was such that I was
not sure I wanted him around the office as I was working on stories.'"
Blumenthal has a mean-spirited streak,
offering this assessment in the April 16, 1993 Boston Phoenix: "Bill
Bennett is basically a schismatic heretic practicing his own contrived
lunatic version of the Latin Mass in the basement. That's what Buchanan
is doing, only with Confederate flags flying. You have Phil Gramm of
Texas, an incredibly mean-spirited right-wing character backed by big-
oil money. He is the kind of perverse version of Lyndon Johnson whittled
down to his vices and exaggerated. Then you have Bob Dole: when he's
most sardonic and cruel is when he's most sincere. I think that's the
Republican Party right now."
They All Do It
Imagine if during Watergate a reporter
declared: "The system's the problem, this investigation really isn't
about Nixon White House wrongdoing." Many reporters are approaching the
hearings on the fundraising scandal not as a process to identify
lawbreakers, but as a chance to argue for liberal campaign finance
Indeed, previewing the appearance by
former RNC Chair Haley Barbour on the PBS series Follow the Money July
18, Time's Viveca Novak hoped: "It will lay out there the fact that both
the parties have this problem. Perhaps what we'll end up with is a very
good case that both are were scrambling for money, both of them went
overseas and the system lends itself to these kinds of abuses and maybe
it really does need to be reformed."
Novak's Time colleague Margaret Carlson
insisted on the July 12 Capital Gang: "It's never going to end until
there's some kind of reform. And just because what Clinton did is, may
be illegal, doesn't mean the whole thing doesn't have to be looked at.
Because what's legal is corrupt as well."
The day the hearings began, July 8, a
Boston Globe headline asserted: "U.S. Political System Itself to Face
Scrutiny in Hearings." Washington Bureau Chief David Shribman contended:
"At times it will seem as if an individual, or a presidential campaign,
or a political party is being investigated. That's only partly true.
What's really in the dock beginning today isn't any politician but the
system that politicians built. What's important beginning today isn't
what one party can show about the other, but what the campaign-finance
system shows about our political system."
In other words, just as liberals believe,
everybody does it and the answer is to install more regulations.
Shribman continued: "The hearings that
begin this morning aren't really about John Huang and Charlie Trie or
Abraham Lincoln's bedroom but about the political loophole --
unregulated 'soft-money' contributions to the parties, not to the
candidates -- that makes them important."
He argued: "There are likely to be few
spectacles like the spin of summer. In their effort to minimize any
changes in the system, the two parties will attempt to spin viewers
toward the conclusion that their rival, and not the system, is at
Janet Cooke Award
Networks Ignore Extreme New EPA Proposals, Tout
Liberal Scare Statistics
Another Frontal Assault on
The arrival of the Republican
Congress in 1995 led to panicked boob-tube predictions of environmental
doom. A Peter Jennings promo plugged a series of reports "which will
tell you precisely what the new Congress has in mind: the most frontal
assault on the environment in 25 years. Is this what the country wants?"
An NBC promo warned: "Safe food, safe water, safe air, safe
transportation. You have this protection now, but you might be about to
Now, as Clinton's Environmental
Protection Agency prepares draconian new air regulations its own
advisory panels don't support, regulations that are opposed even by
Democratic congressmen and big city mayors, why haven't the networks
isolated the liberal environmental extreme as out of touch? Instead,
network coverage of environmental issues echoes the activists on that
extreme and all their statistical claims. For using the fifth
anniversary of the United Nations Rio summit as another occasion for
unanswered extremist propaganda, ABC and NBC earned the Janet Cooke
On the June 22 NBC Nightly News, reporter
Linda Fasulo declared: "Five years after the first Earth Summit in Rio
de Janeiro, the goals of that meeting remain elusive." Christopher
Flavin of the liberal Worldwatch Institute claimed: "The bold hopes and
promises that were put forth by world leaders in 1992 -- to stabilize
the climate, to protect natural areas, to slow population growth --
those promises have, unfortunately, not been fulfilled."
Fasulo continued: "At the Rio conference,
153 nations agreed to curb global warming, pledging to cut back
emissions of so-called greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
But these were only targets with no enforcement provisions. Today
emissions are up nearly everywhere, including a six percent rise in the
United States, the world's biggest contributor to the greenhouse effect.
Burning of the Brazilian rain forest has actually increased. Rain
forests are home to most of the world's species. Rio produced a treaty
to preserve biological diversity. Since that agreement was ratified by
161 countries, but not the United States, at least 100,000 species have
Free-market environmentalists would
quickly note that America may be the largest producer of greenhouse
gases, but it's also the largest producer of goods and services consumed
around the world. Jonathan Adler of the Competitive Enterprise Institute
(CEI) told MediaWatch there was "no basis for the 100,000 species claim.
Scientists don't know how many species there are, let alone how many are
CEI has also pointed out that since 1973,
only 23 species have been removed from the Endangered Species list.
Eight were listed in error, a court invalidated one listing, seven
recovered, and seven actually became extinct. Fasulo allowed no one to
explain why the U.S. didn't sign the "biodiversity" treaty. One reason:
the treaty language demanded the U.S. hand out foreign aid to Third
World countries with no conditions -- meaning it could not be designated
to save plants and animals.
Fasulo concluded: "World leaders expect
to reaffirm their commitment to sustainable development, but remain
divided on the exact steps to take." Fasulo may have ended with the
concept of a debate, but there wasn't anything resembling one in her
Two days later on ABC's World News
Tonight, Bill Blakemore publicized a study by the liberal World Wildlife
Fund (WWF): "For thousands of years, the ocean's been rising just over
an inch every hundred years. That's normal after an Ice Age. But
suddenly at the turn of the century, just as industry and coal and oil
power were really taking hold, the rise in sea level accelerated from
one inch to six inches in a hundred years, and this rise is still
speeding up. Over the next 100 years, scientists predict a rise in sea
level of one to three feet. In virtually every national park, scientists
are seeing rapid, unnatural changes due to global warming, and the vast
majority now agree that's due to gases from industry, power plants, even
the planes we fly."
After airing two soundbites of the WWF's
Adam Markham and publicizing his study without a challenge from
conservatives, Blakemore concluded: "The delicate balances of nature
here in the U.S. and around the world are now clearly being disrupted by
global warming. The U.S., with only four percent of the world's
population, produces nearly a quarter of its greenhouse gases, one
reason President Clinton will be feeling political heat when he visits
the U.N. conference here."
In dissent, Jonathan Adler told
MediaWatch: "Satellites and weather balloons show no warming since 1979.
If anything, there is slight cooling. Most (two-thirds) of 20th century
warming occurred before 1950, prior to most industrial emissions."
As usual, Blakemore presented
"scientists" as a monolith of politically correct opinion. But the
National Center for Policy Analysis recently noted a Gallup poll showing
that only 17 percent of members of the Meteorological Society and the
American Geophysical Society believed that warming in the 20th century
has resulted from greenhouse gas emissions, mainly CO2 from burning
fossil fuels. And only 13 percent of the scientists responding to a
survey conducted by the radical environmental group Greenpeace said they
believe current energy use patterns will result in catastrophic climate
Most important, the networks ignored the
UN's own change on climate change: in 1995, the UN's Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change reversed its endorsement of computer climate
models by suggesting dramatic warming predicted by the models "produced
a greater mean warming than has been observed to date."
But then, a debate would only undermine
the atmosphere of fear the networks try to build in these stories. ABC
or NBC wouldn't consider airing good news, like Ronald Bailey's
statement in his book The True State of the Planet: "In the United
States, ambient levels of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile
organic compounds, atmospheric ozone, and particulates in the air are
decreasing. Industrial pollution has been largely eliminated as a source
of contamination in most of America's rivers, lakes, and streams.
Consequently, 95 percent of the nation's rivers are considered
Neither Fasulo nor Blakemore responded to
MediaWatch calls for comment. Reports like theirs display no evidence
they're the slightest bit serious about going beyond liberal press
releases to investigate both sides of a rigorous scientific debate.
Instead, they suggest that environmental issues evolve from a strange
spectrum, with a set of Earth-hating extremists who deserve no air time
at one pole, and an unassailable consensus of sweet reason at the other.
In their zeal to destroy the
cigarette industry, some in the media resort to using addled research
from liberal crusaders. In a July 10 World News Tonight story on R.J.
Reynolds dropping the Joe Camel cartoon, ABCs Aaron Brown relayed this
preposterous claim: "Kids loved Joe. Researchers in 1991 found more kids
knew Joe Camel than knew Mickey Mouse."
Is it really logical to believe more kids
know Camel than a widely replicated Disney movie character? The June 16
Weekly Standard demolished the "bogus" claim which appeared in a 1991
Journal of the American Medical Association article: "The Mickey Mouse
result was derived from interviews with 23 children at a single Atlanta
pre-school and couldn't be replicated on a broader scale."
Three Cheers, Green Militias!
Most Americans would agree that breaking
the law is not something that should be taught to young people. The
national media has tossed out many stories on the lawlessness of
right-wing militia groups. But what about lawlessness on the left?
That's different. On the June 22 World News Tonight and Nightly News,
ABC and NBC profiled a group called the Ruckus Society, a left-wing
group which, according to NBC anchor Sara James, trains its young
campers "for the front lines in the battle over the environment."
NBC reporter Dan Lothian sounded like a
representative for the camp: "This is a training camp for warriors,
environmental warriors. Held in the southwest corner of North Carolina,
just where the Appalachian Mountains end, it's a bare-bones existence.
Tents dot a nearby forest, no burgers and fries here, only vegetarian
fare...It's a nine-day course in civil disobedience, run by a group
called the Ruckus Society. Pioneered by the conservation group
Greenpeace, former camp graduates include Woody Harrelson, who climbed
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge to protest redwood forest
Over at ABC, reporter Antonio Mora was no
different: "At first glance, it looks like a pleasant retreat, but then
it gets serious. This simulated confrontation is part of a four-day
training camp in civil disobedience. It was organized by the Ruckus
Society, a group of veteran Greenpeace and Earth First environmental
activists, who want to make sure there's a next generation of
A CBS Diversion.
The night before the Senate hearings
opened, prompted by Democratic fundraising abuses, the CBS Evening
Newsdevoted an extraordinarily long five minutes and 33 seconds to a
story reflecting the "everybody does it" spin forwarded by liberals. CBS
created a Web site especially to provide additional information about
how Republicans were just as guilty.
Anchor John Roberts began the July 7
story: "In tonight's Eye on America investigation, a look beyond the
questionable campaign fundraising practices that Congress will focus on
starting tomorrow. Much of what Congress will look at is limited to
Campaign 96 and especially money funneled to the Democrats." Whittaker
opened with video of a 1992 GOP fundraising dinner, explaining the CBS
discovery: "The biggest donor: an American businessman whose stunning
$500,000 donation got him a seat up at the head table with President
Bush. He's Michael Kojima. You remember him: The biggest donor turned
out to be America's biggest deadbeat dad. When his name hit the papers,
a former wife was shocked: he owed her more than $100,000 in child
Whittaker elaborated: "A CBS News
investigation has revealed that if anyone had bothered to look back in
92, they would have found that Kojima didn't have his own money to give,
but apparently was funneling foreign donations to the GOP -- which is
illegal -- donations from Japanese businessmen seeking to benefit from
Republican connections." But CBS is far from consistently concerned
about foreign money. CBS, as well as ABC and NBC, failed to report an
April 1 Wall Street Journal story on how Charlie Yah Lin Trie "received
a series of substantial wire transfers in 1995 and 1996 from a bank
operated by the Chinese government. The transfers from the New York
office of the Bank of China, usually in increments of $50,000 or
$100,000, came at a time when Mr. Trie was directing large donations to
the Democratic National Committee."
Tough Liberal Questions.
While Clinton made the interview circuit
in preparation for his much ballyhooed California speech on race
relations, reporters challenged him with tough questions from the left.
Charles Osgood interviewed Clinton June 15 on CBS's Sunday Morning show
and questioned the wisdom of Clinton's call for a dialogue on race: "Is
there risk in that, though, sir, if you have people speaking frankly, do
you really want people to say what they think about others? We have
something of that kind that goes on to talk radio all the time and
people say what they think, but it's not always very constructive." Then
he asked: "Do you think that today the United States is a racist country
and is it mainly white racism?" Osgood mentioned the scandals only in
passing, and even then he talked of Clinton as a passive victim,
mentioning the "legal problems being thrust on you."
The next morning Gwen Ifill interviewed
Clinton and asked another tough question from left field: "Is this
welfare bill your great vulnerability on this subject [of race
relations]? Your supporters, your critics, they all say that, perhaps,
you are abandoning minorities and the poor." Do "all" of Clinton's
critics really attack him for signing the welfare bill? Not his
conservative critics. Ifill is apparently not familiar with them.
Brock vs. Brock.
If you want to blast conservatives on the
Todayshow, it's open mike morning. But attack a liberal and a symposium
is required, with the liberal side well represented. After David Brock
wrote an article for Esquire complaining the conservative movement had
become a "neo-Stalinist thought police," Today gave him an unchallenged
platform from which to attack. Matt Lauer set the scene on the June 18
show: "Brock details his fall from grace in the conservative community
in the current issue of Esquire magazine." Lauer summarized Brock's
argument: "Basically the problem is, you're saying, they look at you not
as a journalist, who would tell a fair story, they looked at you as
someone who would be a hit man for their cause."
Although Lauer asked Brock one
challenging question about accusations of Brock being on a publicity
hunt, Lauer vigorously pumped Brock for dirt on the conservative
movement. After Brock said that he could no longer be on "that team
anymore," Lauer asked, "Alright, when you say the team, give me names of
the players....Like who?....Give me some other names that people will
recognize." Brock dutifully named two boogeymen of the liberal
imagination: Gordon Liddy and Oliver North. Today treated Brock quite
differently when he was promoting his book The Real Anita Hill. On the
May 3, 1993 Today segment devoted to Brock's book, his presence was
"balanced" by that of a liberal, Charles Ogletree, who continually
interrupted Brock and called him a liar.
No Gore Gaffes.
Harsh words are hardly new to politics,
but the media feels a need to condemn them only when the speaker's a
Republican. Case in point: when Vice President Gore attacked a
Republican plan to bar new immigrants from the Social Security program
as "un-American, simply un-American," the story could be found on the AP
wire and in the June 20 USA Today and Los Angeles Times. But the Big
Three networks did nothing. TV viewers had to wait for CNN's Inside
Politics to see a clip of Gore making the comment late in its June 24
show, but only as part of a series of examples of "tart political talk
this month from members of both parties."
But when Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott said on the June 15 edition of ABC's This Week that President
Clinton was acting like a "spoiled brat" on tax cuts, Sam Donaldson
quickly admonished him: "Well, now you've just called the President of
the United States someone like a spoiled brat, so I mean, Senator, don't
complain if others use highly inflammatory language." A few hours later,
World News Tonight Sunday anchor Carole Simpson pondered: "The disaster
relief bill is now signed and both sides have compromised on the budget,
so why all the name-calling today?" CNN's Prime News also raised Lott's
comments, as did the July 16 NBC Nightly News.
On Inside Politics June 16, Bernard Shaw
began with "what some might call sticks-and-stones politics. The
prospect of a bipartisan agreement on specific tax cuts remains caught
today in some decidedly partisan crossfire." In an interview with GOP
Reps. Joe Barton and Ernest Istook later in the show, Shaw asked, Does
it serve your cause for the Senate Majority Leader to say that the
President of the United States is acting like a spoiled brat?"
Pile on the Prosecutor.
Reporters are so anxious to bash
Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr that when the Washington Postrevived a
three-month-old Arkansas Democrat story revealing that agents working
for him questioned Arkansas state troopers for the names of women with
whom Bill Clinton may have had affairs, the media pounced.
His aim was legitimate: to find other
acquaintances who may have overheard discussions about Whitewater. But
Starr's use of a classic prosecutorial technique outraged reporters:
"Critics charge that after three years and 30 million dollars, Starr's
investigation is nothing more than a political witch hunt," conveyed
NBC's Jim Miklaszewski on the June 25 Nightly News.
The next day, Today anchor Matt Lauer
asked conservative Susan Carpenter-McMillan: "The fact that this line of
questioning from Whitewater investigators has turned personal to the
President's, or then Governor's sex life, does it show you that this
investigation is desperate?" Over on Good Morning America, an
exasperated Charlie Gibson asked Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff:
"These troopers are saying they are being asked questions like did you
ever see the Governor perform a sex act, did some woman bear a love
child of the Governor's. What does that have to do with land deals?" For
reporters who had no trouble asking about Clarence Thomas's personal
life, their outrage seems to hinge on to whom the questions are being
Another Improper Fundraiser.
When George Stephanopoulos signed on as a
commentator for ABC News many saw this as yet another turn in the
revolving door between politics and journalism. But an effort by
Stephanopoulos to leave a foot on the politics side revealed that ABC is
suffering from a case of selective ethics. In the June 26 Washington
Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz found that Democratic New York City
mayoral candidate Ruth Messinger invited supporters to a fundraiser
featuring Stephanopoulos at Tavern on the Green. Kurtz wrote: "A $2,500
contribution, the invitation said, 'entitles couple to intimate dinner
with Mr. Stephanopoulos and Ms. Messinger after the event.' When one of
the invitations made its way to ABC News, it promptly nixed the idea."
Kurtz continued: "It's against the rules,' said ABC Senior Vice
President Richard Wald. 'I called George and said this is a no-no.'
Anyone employed by ABC News 'should not be in active support of
electoral politics,' Wald said. 'He made a mistake.'"
But ABC is hardly consistent when it
comes to barring news staffers from lending their name to political
causes. In 1994, correspondent and anchor Carole Simpson hosted a
$175-a-plate fundraiser for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's 40th
anniversary. What was the difference between that and Stephanopoulos?
ABC's policy covers "groups with a political purpose" and ABC declared
the NAACP doesn't fit that category.
Networks Use First
Amendment Rights to Promote Opponents of Second Amendment Rights
Gun Rights Forces Outgunned on TV
Network reporters feared a wave of
criminals storming gun stores when the Supreme Court struck down
portions of the Brady Bill as unconstitutional. On the June 27 CBS
Evening News, Jim Stewart left viewers with this fearful conclusion: "No
matter who does the checking, supporters of the Brady law say one lesson
from this is very clear. If no background check is done anyone can walk
into a gun store and purchase a weapon, including the nearly quarter of
a million felons who tried to and were turned away the four years the
Brady law was in effect."
Stewart neglected the National Rifle
Association's view that the 250,000 number is completely exaggerated,
especially considering that only 20 states are still subject to the
Brady law, and there are only "three individuals who've seen the inside
of a prison cell under the Brady Act."
To examine if CBS's tone reflected how
the networks covered the gun control debate, MediaWatch analysts
reviewed every gun control policy story on four evening shows (ABC's
World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's The World Today, and NBC
Nightly News) and three morning broadcasts (ABC's Good Morning America,
CBS This Morning, and NBC's Today) from July 1, 1995 through June 30,
1997. In 244 gun policy stories, those favoring gun control outnumbered
stories opposing gun control by 157 to 10, or a ratio of almost 16 to 1
(77 were neutral). Talking heads were slightly more balanced: gun
control advocates outumbered gun-rights spokesmen 165 to 110 (40 were
Story Angle. Analysts counted the
number of pro- and anti- gun control statements by reporters in each
story. Pieces with a disparity of greater than 1.5 to 1 were categorized
as either for or against gun control. Stories closer than the ratio were
deemed neutral. Among statements recorded as pro-gun control: violent
crime occurs because of guns, not criminals, and gun control prevents
crime. Categorized as arguments against gun control: gun control would
not reduce crime; that criminals, not guns are the problem; Americans
have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms; right-to-carry
concealed weapons laws caused a drop in crime. The finding that the
story-angle numbers are much more lopsided than the talking-head
contrast reveals that the reporters' own statements have a demonstrable
pro-gun control spin.
Evening News. Gun rights advocates
were treated like clay pigeons in a skeet-shooting contest. Out of 103
evening news segments, pro-gun control stories outnumbered anti-gun
control stories by 70 to 6, along with 27 neutral reports. ABC was the
most slanted (29 pro-gun control to five anti-, only six neutral),
followed by CNN (17-1, and only six neutral). NBC reporters promoted gun
control in 13 (60 percent) of 22 gun segments. CBS had the highest
percentage of balanced stories but still advocated gun control in 11 (65
percent) of 17 gun control-related segments, to six neutral stories and
zero opposing segments.
Pro-gun control talking heads were
televised 99 times on evening shows, to just 67 anti-gun control
spokesmen and 24 neutral soundbites. Once again ABC (35-20, five
neutral) led the way in pushing for gun control, followed by CBS (24-13,
six neutral). CNN (16-13, four neutral) NBC (24-21, and nine neutral)
came closest to balance.
Morning Shows. In 141 morning-show
gun policy segments, stories loaded in favor of gun control outnumbered
stories opposing gun control 87 to 4. (Fifty were neutral.) ABC's
advocacy against gun owners carried over to Good Morning America (36
pro-gun control stories, zero opposed, 16 neutral). NBC came next (35-3,
with 20 neutral). CBS set their sights against gun owners in 16 stories,
but came closest to balance with 14 neutral segments (but only one story
favoring gun rights).
The talking head count on morning shows
also followed the pro-gun control trend: 66 pro-gun control to 43
against and 16 neutral. Again, ABC had the largest slant (26-15, and
eight neutral), followed by NBC (23-12, six neutral). CBS's talking
heads came out almost even: 17 in favor of gun control, 16 opposed and
Guests. The morning shows were
also far more likely to invite gun control spokesmen like Sarah Brady
than 2nd Amendment defenders like the NRA's Tanya Metaksa. Pro-gun
control spokesmen were able to advocate their side three times more than
the anti-gun control speakers: 37 to just 12 opponents, and four neutral
spokesmen. On NBC, advocates overwhelmed opponents 19 to 3, with no
neutral observers, followed by ABC (6-3, one neutral) and CBS (12-6,
Network guest bookers and reporters fell
over themselves to feature anti-gun rights Congresswoman Carolyn
McCarthy (D-N.Y.). On the November 6, 1996 Today Katie Couric asked:
"What do you think the lesson is for the National Rifle Association? Of
course, one of the cornerstones of your campaign was to maintain the ban
on assault weapons in this country."
That same day on Good Morning America,
Joan Lunden also enthusiastically welcomed the gun rights opponent:
"McCarthy turned her rage over the availability of assault weapons into
political activism and last night this ultimate outsider, a former nurse
and homemaker, defeated incumbent Daniel Frisa and Carolyn McCarthy
joins me now. Good morning. Congratulations! What are your thoughts as
you sit there? I mean, a little fear, excitement? Hopes? What are your
thoughts?" She added: "Sounds like you really educated yourself, too.
Are you at all daunted by this task that lies before you?"
At the end of the interview, Lunden
cheered on McCarthy's anti- gun crusade: Well, we wish you the very,
very best of luck and congratulations to you." Would Lunden and Couric
have wished luck to a Congressman desiring to place restrictions on the
First Amendment? Apparently network reporters regard some constitutional
rights as more sacred than others.
the Bright Side
ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross
broke dramatic new ground on the June 18 Prime Time Live with an
interview of Nolanda Hill, a friend and business partner of the late
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Hill told Ross how financial troubles
plagued Brown when he joined the Cabinet: "He was $7,000 in the hole
when he woke up on Day One of any month." Ross added: "Which Nolanda
Hill says would twice lead Brown into schemes involving under-the-table
money. The first, an offer from the group claiming to represent the
government of Vietnam, seeking to get American trade restrictions
Ross also highlighted Brown's connection
to Gene and Nora Lum, the first people to cop a plea in the Justice
Department's campaign finance probe: "In 1993, the Lums took over an
Oklahoma gas company called Dynamic Energy Resources that sought special
government contracts as a minority-owned business. Then the Lums hired
Brown's 28-year-old son, Michael, and made him a well-paid officer of
the company. A convenient way, Hill says, to move money to the father."
Hill even alleged Brown smoked pot and once did a line of cocaine at her
The only problem with this story? Not one
network or news magazine uttered a word about Hill's revelations, not
even any other ABC show, until the July 17 CBS Evening News alluded to
Religion and Rehabilitation
On the July 3 World News Tonight
"Solutions" segment, ABC religion reporter Peggy Wehmeyer highlighted a
criminal rehabilitation program going on in Texas: "The state,
frustrated with failed efforts to reform repeat offenders, has just
turned this prison unit over to the church. It's just like any other
prison...from the guards to the work duty. But a religious group called
Prison Fellowship is spending 1.5 million dollars of its own money on a
rigorous 'moral' rehabilitation program."
Wehmeyer explained: "The program operates
on the premise that in order to change a man's behavior, first you have
to change his heart. And these prison officials say there's no better
way to change a man's heart than through a spiritual transformation."
Wehmeyer pointed out a study which shows that prisoners who participate
in Bible studies are less likely to commit new crimes. Wehmeyer
continued: "All of these inmates volunteer to participate and no
taxpayers' dollars are used to fund the program
Known as Avuncular Orator
Kuralt as Liberal Advocate
When veteran CBS newsman Charles Kuralt died on July
4, eulogies heaped praise on him for his folksy demeanor and stories
about the common American. Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales
declared: "He didn't merely practice good journalism but came to
personify it." But this same Kuralt abused his CBS News position to
promote liberal views:
In a May 5, 1994 CBS special honoring his career,
Kuralt told Morley Safer: "I think liberalism lives the notion that we
don't have to stay where we are as a society, we have promises to keep,
and its liberalism, whether people like it or not, which has animated
all the years of my life. What on Earth did conservatism ever accomplish
for our country?"
Kuralt was not always entranced by the American
people. In an August 1991 Sunday Morning piece, he looked towards Europe
with envy while scolding Americans: "A report last week compared health
care for children in the United States with health care in the ten
countries of Western Europe. Really there isn't any comparison. Nearly
all children in Europe are able to see a doctor when they're sick. A lot
more of them are immunized. A lot fewer of them die in infancy. Do
Europeans care more about their children than we do? There's a simple
At the political conventions in the summer of 1992,
Kuralt served as a commentator for CBS. At the Democratic Convention he
breathlessly praised Gov. Mario Cuomo's nasty attacks on George Bush:
"I'm still in the glow of that Cuomo speech. Mario Cuomo is like one of
those three-way light bulbs...He said he was going to stay on dim so as
not to put Bill Clinton in the shade. And then he stepped up here
tonight and delivered a genuine 250-watter. A speech bright enough to
fill up this dark room." But the next month at the 1992 Republican
Convention, Kuralt was considerably tougher on speaker Pat Buchanan: "I
thought the Buchanan speech had ugly elements in it, especially there at
the end, take back our culture, take back our country. I think that was
an appeal to racism."
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