Intelligence Brags of "Thwarting" Thompson Hearings
Media Also Have Boasting Rights
When Senator Fred Thompson folded his Governmental
Affairs Committee hearings into the fundraising scandal on Halloween,
the media coverage that night wasn’t treated any differently than any
other scandal development. ABC gave it only 19 seconds, and CBS 30
NBC aired a two-minute piece, but reporter Lisa Myers
concluded: "It didn’t help that while Republicans railed about misdeeds
of the Clinton administration, their leaders opposed anything outlawing
the huge contributions that helped create the scandal. And few believe
these hearings will really fix anything." Developments after that were
• A strange twist in the Whitewater case arrived on
November 6: Whitewater documents, including an uncashed check for more
than $20,000 made out to Bill Clinton, were found in an abandoned,
tornado-damaged car. Today gave it 17 seconds, NBC Nightly
News got to it four days later. ABC and CBS never did.
The next day, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee
continued its hearings, with White House Deputy Counsel Cheryl Mills
admitting she and former Counsel Jack Quinn decided to withhold (for a
total of 15 months) a White House staffer’s memo suggesting Clinton
wanted the White House Office Data Base shared with the Democratic
Party, an improper action. TV coverage? Zero.
• On November 13 and 14, that House committee
investigated mysterious donor Johnny Chung, who gave $366,000 in
suspicious donations to Democrats and made 51 visits to the White House.
Despite Chung testifying in closed session, the hearings were ignored
both days. ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News
have yet to notice the House hearings since they began in early October.
• On November 14, Washington Post investigator
Bob Woodward revealed another breakdown in the fundraising probe: "The
FBI has acknowledged overlooking key intelligence information gathered
as far back as 1991 that investigators believe shows further Chinese
efforts to buy political influence in the United States."
A "senior official" told Woodward documents indicated
that Democratic fundraiser Maria Hsia (organizer of the Buddhist temple
event) was "doing the bidding" of Beijing as a Chinese agent. Woodward
said the FBI found the Chinese equivalent of the CIA boasted it had
"thwarted" the Thompson hearings.
CBS gave the story 29 seconds, but ABC and NBC did
nothing, even though ABC’s Forrest Sawyer kissed the hearings goodbye on
October 31 by noting "Thompson conceded he had not proven his charge
that the Chinese government tried to influence the American elections."
CNN Touts Paris Over D.C.
CNN’s weekly magazine show Impact filed a
three-part series between October 12 and 26 called "Tale of Two Cities."
Reported by Kathy Slobogin and Jim Bitterman, it compared the quality of
life in Paris to that of Washington, D.C. Predictably, Washington
suffered in comparison, portrayed as a victim of the media’s usual
suspect: Not enough government spending.
The October 12 show compared social services in the
two cities. From Washington, Slobogin blamed "bad management" and
middle- class flight as the cause of the city’s troubles. But in Paris,
Bitterman noted approvingly "It all costs money, and some who’ve lived
in both capitals believe there’s a different attitude toward spending it
here." He concluded: "Have Americans paid the price for that ambivalence
[toward spending] in their capital city?"
The October 19 Impact focused on child care.
Bernard Shaw introduced Bitterman’s report: "It is often said that the
true gauge of the health of any society is how well children are raised.
If that’s the case, there’s an unhealthy gap between French and U.S.
society...money and management go a long way in explaining the
differences between the capitals."
From Paris, Bitterman praised French-style socialism
where everything is "free." He gushed, "France takes a lot of things
seriously, but probably none more so than child rearing...From even
before birth, the free universal health care system constantly monitors
a child’s progress. A log book is maintained on the health and illnesses
of each one of them; it is required for admission to schools and camps
and youth organizations." Bitterman did note that the French pay more in
taxes, "two-thirds more than Americans do."
Slobogin took the opposite tack, pointing out
Washington spends more per capita on schools with some of the nation’s
worst results, while racking up "an astonishing record of mismanagement
On October 26 the focus was on crime and other social
ills. In Washington, Slobogin again stressed bureaucratic corruption,
but Bitterman’s report implied money mattered most. After citing French
support of gun control as a factor in the low crime rate, he continued:
"As serious as their problems might appear to Parisians, they pale in
comparison to Washington or other big cities. Mainly because of some
fundamental structural differences." Michel Beaujour of the Institute of
French Studies explained what Bitterman meant: "Here, practically
everything is subsidized or paid for by the equivalent of the federal
Bitterman continued: "Not only does the national
government stand by its capital city, but so too do its residents. Paris
is not a city that has been abandoned by the middle class the way
Washington has." Bitterman refused to cite possible reasons why
Washington residents might have abandoned the city, such as high taxes
and mammoth, inefficient bureaucracies.
Co-host Stephen Frazier summed up the series as if he
hadn’t watched Slobogin documenting Washington’s financial waste,
fingering lack of money as the culprit: "It is belief, our
correspondents say, that will bring Washington’s quality of life closer
to Paris’s. A belief that Washington should symbolize the nation, not
just showcase its history. After belief, they say, the leadership and
the money for improvement will follow."
Big Government Solutions
On the night of the October 23 White House conference
on the child care "crisis," the three major networks generated public
anxiety and rallied support for big government solutions. On NBC, Tom
Brokaw began: "It is one of the fundamental changes in America: working
mothers, and their most fundamental need is inadequate, inconsistent,
expensive and getting more so all the time. It is child care...We begin
with the promise of better times. It came from the President and Mrs.
At CBS, Dan Rather declared: "We turn now to this
country’s most important investment and two stories that raise the
question — who’s watching America’s children? The President and First
Lady Hillary Clinton convened a conference today to address what they
called ‘the silent crisis’ of American child care."
ABC’s Peter Jennings worried: "Anybody in the country
who has small children and has to go to work is faced with a common
problem and it doesn’t always matter whether you’re rich or poor. What
do you do about getting the kind of quality child care that you think
your family deserves. Which is why the First Lady decided today, it was
necessary to have a debate." That’s funny: none of the networks included
a single conservative counterpoint to the crusade.
All three networks recounted the plight of "victims"
of inadequate government involvement in child care. ABC and NBC turned
to possible models for change, both involving big government. On ABC,
Michele Norris outlined the Clinton model as found in the United States
military: "Each center must follow a long list of regulations that
covers everything from surprise inspections to the size of each
NBC’s Tom Brokaw turned to France: "So, how does the
United States, the most prosperous nation in the world, stack up against
other nations when it comes to child care. Tonight, the French way. Jean
Slayman is an American computer expert, married to a Frenchman, living
in Paris with her two children. Her French experience tonight, in her
But what of the high taxes used to pay for the system?
Slayman explained: "People here don’t seem to be as upset about high
taxes. For them, children are a priority."
Janet Cooke Award
Ceasing Tradition of Live Coverage, PBS Pushes
"Reform" Models Instead of Money Scandal
Washington Week in Revisionism
PBS cut its teeth on the Nixon administration by
running live coverage during the day and repeats at night of the
Watergate hearings. It ran Iran-Contra hearings live from start to
finish. But the network with the motto "If PBS won’t do it, who will?"
went AWOL on the fundraising hearings.
Instead, the Friday night PBS show Washington Week
in Review recently took the unusual step of devoting parts of four
shows to an analysis of campaign funding. But instead of focusing on
illegal fundraising, host Ken Bode promoted campaign finance "reform" —
private-money restrictions followed by government- funded elections. For
diverting attention from Democratic wrongdoing to promoting liberal
"reform" proposals, Washington Week in Review earned the Janet
In his first taped segment on October 17, Bode began
with a state-level reform model: "Kentucky — where America’s favorite
vices are big business, fine tobacco, bourbon whiskey, and politics
lubricated with lots of hard, cold cash. There was so much loose money
in the legislature that the FBI couldn’t help but notice."
An FBI sting caught 18 legislators and lobbyists,
including the Speaker of the state House. Bode turned to Joe Wright,
until recently the Majority Leader of the state Senate, who said: "The
politicians gonna have to get ahead of the curve on this issue. They
know what the problem is. They’re a part of the problem. It’s gonna be
because of the result of some great scandal, and the kind of which we
seem to be on the edges of now — in both parties, for that matter."
Bode asked: "You seem to be saying overall that it’s —
the problem is not what’s illegal. The problem is what’s legal." Replied
Wright: "Sure it is. Legal contributions to campaigns are the greater
problem than anything that anyone has found that was illegal, as far as
Wright pushed through a "reform" bill that qualified
candidates for Governor for $1.2 million in taxpayer matching funds once
they raised $600,000. Bode asked: "How about the fact that many voters
have doubts about using public money for political campaigns?"
Wright replied: "What the public has to understand:
Their tax dollars are already being spent on the politicians. People are
spending large sums of their personal money to have access. They get the
special tax breaks through the legislation that’s passed. Their tax
dollars are already being spent. It’s just not itemized as it would be
if we had campaign finance reform." Bode added: "And it’s probably
costing them more this way than it would the other way."
In the first test of the new system, the 1995
gubernatorial race, both major candidates accepted restrictions and
government funding. Declared Bode: "At least by the numbers, it was a
success. The cost of the gubernatorial campaign dropped from $24 million
to $10 million. So there was a lot less money for television ads."
Bode did not explore why the reduction of TV ads is
self- evidently good, although it’s obvious TV ads can dilute the power
of media outlets to define elections on their own terms.
In between interviews with three crusading reporters
and Wright, Bode brought on U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, "the leading
opponent of campaign finance reform," to declare Kentucky’s law "an
abysmal failure...As a result of not raising enough money, the
Republican candidate was simply unable to do the kind of advertising
that he needed to do to win the race. I’m sure the Democrats love the
Bode came out of the segment declaring: "In Kentucky,
it wasn’t the people who cared, it was the political class that got
tired of the way politics was done in the state. They got ahead of the
people and did it."
On October 24, Bode listed some of the Senate
hearings’ revelations, and then returned to criticizing Republicans for
hypocrisy: "For all the headline-grabbing excesses of the Clinton-Gore
campaign, the Republican Party won the soft-money race hands down. In
fact, Republicans have raised and spent more soft money than the
Democrats in every single presidential campaign, and they remain the
most vocal opponents of campaign finance reform."
On October 31, Bode turned to another state model,
Vermont: "Like native son Calvin Coolidge, Vermonters are unpretentious
and thrifty. It just seemed wasteful to spend all that money to run for
public office. So the new law requires that candidates for Governor
accept strict limits on what they can raise and spend. To qualify for
public funding, candidates can only accept contributions of $50 or
Again, after filling the segment with "reform"
activists, Bode allowed one soundbite from one opponent from the Vermont
Right to Life Committee. On the Washington Week Web site, Bode
declared in "Bode’s Notebook" that Vermont presented "a good start for a
small state and an important starting point for dozens of other states."
On November 7, Bode returned to those hated TV ads,
critiquing an ad conservatives ran against Montana Democratic House
candidate Bill Yellowtail. Bode brought in liberal academic Kathleen
Hall Jamieson to denounce it: "This is guerrilla warfare in a political
context in which a group with no accountability, including no require to
disclose [sic], can walk into a television station, put money down on
the table, and if the television station is not vigilant, can air
something which is unfair, untrue, get it on and off the air before the
press even has time to find it or to scrutinize it."
He also screened a positive DNC ad that clearly
promoted Clinton which noted "Republicans in Congress cut Medicare by
$270 billion dollars," which was criticized for playing "fast and loose
with the rules" — but not for its inaccuracy.
While Bode was busy promoting states he thought were
models for liberal reforms, he did not report states with fewer
"reforms." Virginia has virtually no contribution limits yet just held a
scandal-free statewide vote. The Canadian province of British Columbia
provides a preview of where Bode’s rules might lead. As David Frum
considered in the November 17 Weekly Standard, opponents of the
socialist government were fined without trial for buying small ads
denouncing the government’s tactics. Can campaign "reform" lead to
government policing of nonprofit groups in their attempts to persuade
the public? PBS didn’t ask.
The Washington Week Web site noted the special
"reform" focus of the four shows was funded by the Ford Foundation, the
Joyce Foundation, and the Schumann Foundation, all liberal
philanthropies heavily involved in the fight to drain private
contributions from elections. If campaign funding unfairly influences
politicians, how does liberal foundation funding affect public TV
programs? That’s another money question never asked on PBS.
Cuddly Killer. Sure,
we all know the public side to Jiang Zemin: he can force abortions on
his population, torture Christians for their beliefs and crush
democratic movements before lunch. But did we ever get to know his
cuddly, sensitive side? During Jiang’s recent trip to America, a few
reporters got to know him better. On October 26, New York Times
reporter Seth Faison insisted the Chinese despot’s "penchant for
unexpectedly displaying his artistic talents — Mr. Jiang also likes to
play piano and recite poetry — points to an unpredictable, wacky side as
The next day, The Washington Post’s Steven Mufson wrote in a
profile: "He reads novels by Mark Twain as well as Leo Tolstoy. He plays
Chinese folk tunes on a Chinese string instrument called an erhu and
American show tunes on the piano. He sang ‘Love Me Tender’ with
Phillipine President Fidel Ramos and warbles Chinese opera for guests.
He likes American films of the late 1940s and early 1950s." On the
Slate Web site, Scott Shuger put this journalistic practice of
humanizing communist leaders in perspective: "Homework assignment: find
a single front-page piece in the entire history of the [New York
Times] emphasizing Hitler’s fondness for animals and children."
The Raw Deal. The CBS Sunday interview show Face the Nation
touts its "Real Deal" segment as a look behind the big story in
Washington. But in recent weeks, the "Real Deal" has turned into a raw
deal for congressional Republicans. Of the six segments run from
September 1 to November 9, five took on Republican politicians or
For example: on the October 26 show, host Gloria Borger called the
GOP’s IRS reform plan a fake: "Experts say that if the burden of proof
shifts to the agency, it will be forced to require even more information
from taxpayers. That’s certain to make dealing with the IRS even more
annoying. They predict it will result in a loss of revenue and create a
whole new class of tax cheaters. The Real Deal here, Bob [Schieffer], is
that the new fix may be a fake."
On November 2, Borger insisted Rep. Dan Burton’s check as to whether
the White House coffee tapes were altered was a boring waste of time,
and "Senate Republicans even hired Paul Ginsburg, a well-respected
technical expert, to dissect those videotapes. Ginsburg spent weeks
comparing the raw footage of the coffees to the composite greatest-hits
version handed over to the Congress. Committee sources say that Ginsburg
will report next week there was no smoking gun or altered tape for that
matter. And Ginsburg tells us that the tapes were like watching the
cocktail hour at a wedding: not very illuminating, unless you’re the
bride or groom."
Will the NRA Fail? Network reporters played up the battle in
Washington state over a ballot initiative cracking down on gun rights by
demanding owners take courses and manufacturers include locks. On the
October 16 NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw began: "Here in the state
of Washington, the front lines have been drawn in the deadly battle over
gun control. It started in the grass roots as anger exploded over the
hundreds of children in this state killed or hurt by guns. It’s now a
full-blown political war."
ABC’s World News Tonight promoted the Washington "war" on
November 2. Anchor Carole Simpson announced: "As ABC’s Judy Muller
reports, the vote could have important repercussions for the National
Rifle Association and the nation." Muller added: "More than 1 million of
Washington’s 5 million residents own a handgun. If this measure wins in
this gun friendly state it could spell trouble for the NRA elsewhere."
When 71 percent of Washington voters rejected the measure, network
producers anticipating an embarrassing loss to the NRA were caught with
their guard down. What certainly would have been a lead story if the
measure passed on an otherwise Republican day became an afterthought on
the networks. On the November 5 Nightly News NBC’s Gwen Ifill
blamed the NRA’s cash advantage for the defeat: "In Washington state the
National Rifle Association spent $2 million to derail a measure that
would have forced gunmakers to put safety trigger locks on guns for sale
in the state and require new gun owners to take a safety test in order
to get a license." The ABC morning and evening shows only offered brief
sentences simply stating the measure failed.
Redneckville? When Republicans made a clean sweep of the November
4 elections the media portrayed it as a vote for the status quo. ABC’s
World News Tonight ran one full story, but instead of focusing on
the anti-tax sentiment felt by the voters, ABC highlighted the one
liberal result of the day. Anchor Peter Jennings declared: "And in
Houston voters chose to keep in place an affirmative action program that
steers city contracts to companies owned by women and minorities. The
Houston decision seems to buck a trend developing in the country to
reverse course on affirmative action."
ABC’s Dean Reynolds opened with a pro-quota spin: "It has been the
goal here in Houston to award about 20 percent of all city contracts to
firms owned by women and minorities. The city says that number is only a
goal, not a rigid quota. But opponents of the policy, spurred by the
success of the anti-affirmative action campaign in California said the
policy was biased and the time to end it had come." Reynolds noted how
the initiative won: "But Houston Mayor Bob Lanier got the city council
to re-phrase the language in the proposition making it clear that a yes
vote would end the city’s affirmative action program." He ended his
report by disparaging the anti-discrimination view: "Mayor Lanier said
the choice for Houston was clear: people here had to decide whether they
wanted to be viewed as a cosmopolitan, diverse, international city or,
as he put it, ‘Redneckville.’"
No Licking Whitey’s Boots! Thousands of black women converged on
October 25 for a "Million Woman March," and the networks painted a
harmonious picture. The next day on Good Morning America, ABC’s
Bill Redeker declared: "People power, that celebrated a common goal,
unity and the desire to collectively make life in their community
better, safer." On Today, NBC’s Susan Campos declared: "Keynote
speaker Winnie Mandela underscored the theme of the Million Woman March
with a strongly worded call to power. She told the mostly black
gathering in Philadelphia that women have a shared responsibility to
save the world from those, she said, who want to destroy it. The rally
was aimed at building political, economic, and social unity among black
While many at the "Million Woman March" were inspired by that ideal,
the theme of unity wasn’t advocated by everyone at the podium. As
National Public Radio reporter Eric Westervelt pointed out in the
November 17 New Republic, Ava Muhammed from the Nation of Islam
"told the crowd that black women must not sleep with white men, lest
they become ‘traitors to the cause of liberation. We have thousands of
long-tongued Uncle Toms lookin’ for a boot to lick...and who’ll sell our
soul for a job and to have lunch with white people!’" Rep. Maxine Waters
(D-Calif.) "warned of white plots to destroy blacks," such as the CIA
importing crack into Los Angeles.
Winnie Mandela also didn’t exactly embody the themes of peace and
unity: in her own country of South Africa, she was convicted in the 1988
kidnapping of Soweto child activist Stompie Seipei and is under
investigation for her involvement in his murder. With the exception of
an oblique reference to controversial speakers Waters and Mandela by
NBC’s Jodi Applegate, the big three networks ignored any hint of
Clinton’s "Correction." When the stock market took a sharp dive
in October, the networks repeated the optimistic proclamations of the
Clinton administration, a stark contrast with the commentary offered on
"Black Monday" in 1987, which reporters declared was the natural
culmination of Reagan’s failed economic policies. As pointed out by
James W. Michaels in the November 3 Forbes, back in 1987 this is
how Time described the crash: "What crashed was more than just
the market. It was the Reagan Illusion...he stayed a term too long...his
dream of painless prosperity has been punctured." In the November 3,
1997 Time, the headline read "Catching the Asian Flu," and
concluded: "Increasingly, when Asia sneezes, as it did last week in Hong
Kong, America will catch cold."
The same difference in approaches plagued television news. In an
October 20, 1987 commentary NBC’s John Chancellor opined: "Everybody
knew these chickens were coming home to roost...The party was nice while
it lasted, but this was the week when the bill arrived." The next night,
Chancellor continued his assault: "Ronald Reagan said a tax increase
‘over my dead body’ and that was popular with the voters. In 1984 Fritz
Mondale said he’d raise taxes and carried only Minnesota and the
District of Columbia. So, without enough money coming in, government had
to borrow to pay its way...which raises an interesting question, which
would have been better: a stock market disaster or a tax increase which
might have prevented the disaster?"
In an October 22, 1987 report, CBS economics correspondent Ray Brady
warned: "Wall Street’s been talking about the optimistic statements
issued by President Hoover during the 1929 stock crash and comparing
them to President Reagan’s upbeat messages this week." Reporter Bill
Plante warned "some in financial circles are afraid that President
Reagan will repeat his pledge of no new taxes tonight and further upset
What a difference a decade makes — on October 27, 1997, CBS anchor
Dan Rather proclaimed: "The market closed a half hour early after prices
plummeted. The Dow lost 554 points, the biggest one day point drop ever
closing at 7715. Over on the NASDAQ...the index plunged 115
points...President Clinton is urging calm and reason, saying the U.S.
economy remains very strong."
North Korea’s Decades of Bad Luck. Prime Time Live host
Diane Sawyer traveled to North Korea to tape an emotional piece on
children starving in that nation. But instead of blaming the communists’
policies, in her October 8 story Sawyer blamed someone else: Mother
Nature. Sawyer did, however, note the regime’s restrictions on reporters
and on free speech: "You dare not express opposition if you dare think
it. Nor dare ask the question: Why do perhaps as many as five million
North Koreans face malnutrition or starvation this winter?"
Sawyer continued: "There’s the propaganda about the North Korean
harvests, abundant with granaries overflowing, though Prime Time
commissioned a study using satellite images and found huge areas of
farmland damaged by flood and drought and overall productivity at rock
bottom, a result of the country’s failing agriculture system." But
instead of seeing through the regime’s propaganda she bought into it:
blaming uncontrollable natural occurrences. Sawyer failed to connect the
nation’s "failing agriculture system" to the repressive policies of the
isolated nation which refuses to let anyone leave.
Two weeks later, a producer read a history book before writing the
intro for the October 23 Nightline. Anchor Chris Wallace began:
"It is part of communism’s tragic legacy that three of this century’s
worst famines all took place under communist regimes. Millions died in
Stalin’s Russia in the ‘30s. The worst famine ever, more than 30 million
dead, came in Mao’s China some 35 years ago. And now, in North Korea, it
is happening again. The most telling indication of just how desperate
the situation is may be that it has forced this proud and repressive
regime to open up, to let some outsiders in so they can tell the rest of
the world how much North Korea needs help."
Network Evening Shows Promote Drastic Greenhouse
Remedies Without Scientific Debate
A Day in the Media’s Warming Crusade
President Clinton must have found the coverage of his
October 22 speech on global warming’s dangers to be very heartwarming.
With grim unanimity, the Big Three networks and CNN dutifully ran
stories that conjured a chilling future of environmental degradation due
to global warming. While each network took the most frightening premises
of liberal environmental activists as truth, they gave more skeptical
views the cold shoulder.
MediaWatch analyzed the
six full stories on global warming that aired on the October 22 evening
news shows and discovered a fourfold advantage (12-3) for soundbites
from talking heads that supported Clinton’s global warming hypothesis.
Of the 12, five featured Clinton himself, and another four were
spokesmen from left-wing environmental groups, two of whom claimed
Clinton’s plan did not go far enough.
All three opposing soundbites came from business
sources, whose profit motives are easily questioned. Not a single
skeptical scientist appeared, and while reporters relayed
environmentalist claims about melting glaciers and rising sea levels as
fact, they ignored alternative data on those claims, as well as polls
which show that climatologists don’t believe mankind has fueled warming.
ABC’s World News Tonight.
Anchor Peter Jennings introduced John Donvan’s report with the most
distorted view of scientific opinion, insisting that the "overwhelming
majority of scientists" agree that global warming was caused by man.
Donvan’s soundbites tilted to the left 3-0, featuring Clinton, Les Brown
of the left-wing Worldwatch Institute, and Clinton aide Gene Sperling.
Leading into ABC’s next segment, Jennings put the
blame on greedy Western ways: "To do something about global warming, we
will have to come to grips with the fact that North Americans are
increasingly driving the kinds of cars and trucks that do the most
damage." Reporter Barry Serafin concluded his story by relaying how
"environmentalists say along with technology there has to be some pain."
For consumers, Serafin suggested, "fees imposed on the purchase of gas
guzzlers. And for manufacturers, mandatory higher annual fuel economy
standards to try to break the bigger-is-better vehicle habit." Serafin
included comments from Clinton, an industry representative and an
official from the leftist Natural Resources Defense Council. ABC’s
soundbites tilted 5-1 toward warming advocates over two stories.
CBS Evening News. Anchor
Dan Rather cast the debate as a battle not between scientific
formulations but between dueling agendas: "Reactions tonight from
environmentalists and industry are equally heated over whether the real
threat is catastrophic climate change or catastrophic change for the
Reporter Scott Pelley then retraced Clinton’s recent
South American tour route. Standing on a mountain in Argentina, Pelley
proclaimed, "It’s up here, near the roof of Patagonia, that you can see
some of the best evidence that the world is warming. The glacier on the
peak behind me and all the other glaciers of the Andes have been
shrinking...it is happening all around the world — the Earth’s glaciers
have been receding at an increasing pace over the last 100 years."
Pelley’s two soundbites both came from the left:
Clinton and Tom Karl of the National Climactic Data Center. Although
Pelley did point out "some scientists believe the warming is natural,
part of a centuries-old cycle," he quickly added, "it is clear that
pollution at least hastens the trend. Fumes from this morning’s rush
hour will linger for 100 years."
NBC Nightly News. Anchor
Tom Brokaw’s summary left science behind: "President Clinton today
joined that debate and managed not to satisfy the environmentalists or
the industrialists." David Bloom put his wading boots on to deliver this
warning from the deep waters of environmental hysteria: "The goal is to
stop global warming, which some scientists predict could flood American
cities such as Washington, D.C., and south Florida, if the oceans rise
just three feet." Bloom’s soundbites went 2-1 for global warming, with
Clinton, a Sierra Club leader and a coal mine operator.
CNN’s The World Today.
Reporter Carl Rochelle opened: "With cars, trucks, and smokestacks
belching greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at every increasing rates,
President Clinton used the National Geographic Society as a forum to
reveal his proposal to curb what some scientists say is a cause of
Although both Rochelle and Bloom declared "some"
scientists believe in warming, neither cited what the majority of
scientists thought. Rochelle quoted Michael Oppenheimer of the liberal
Environmental Defense Fund: "If we don’t act we’re going to have record
heat, record drought..."
Anchor Leon Harris subsequently noted European
criticism that the proposal wasn’t drastic enough and then, over
satellite photos, presented "proof that pollution is gnawing away at the
Earth’s ozone layer is becoming even more pronounced." Next, Sharon
Collins reported on businesses selling cleaner technology. In the two
full stories, CNN soundbites favored global warming advocates by 3-1.
Reality Check. Nearly 100
climate scientists signed the Leipzig Declaration in 1996, expressing
doubts about the forecasting accuracy of computer models. No network
cited that fact nor a poll highlighted in a May 23 report from the
National Center for Policy Analysis which sank Jennings’ assertion of
what the "overwhelming majority" of scientists think: "A Gallup poll
found that only 17 percent of the members of the Meteorological Society
and the American Geophysical Society think that the warming of the 20th
century has been a result of greenhouse gas emissions."
Networks also failed to consider arguments suggesting
warming fears are misplaced: While David Bloom foresaw a D.C.
underwater, the May 23 NCPA analysis noted sea levels have risen more
than 300 feet over the last 18,000 years, a trend far predating
mankind’s Industrial Revolution (and industrial pollution).
While CBS’s Scott Pelley relayed scary anecdotes about
melting glaciers, Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy
Project added context in a September 2 analysis: "Glaciers have been
retreating for more than 10,000 years, a phenomenon generally regarded
as a good thing."
Singer added, "There was a strong warming trend
between 1850 and 1940, as the world recovered from the Little Ice Age.
But there has been no significant global warming since 1940 and,
according to weather satellite data, none at all in the last two
decades." Singer’s focus on long term temperatures would have provided a
valuable point of view from a scientist with long work in the field of
the Bright Side
Where’s Charlie Trie?
The leader of the country implicated in funneling money into U.S.
elections comes to America. Several figures in the fundraising scandal,
including Charlie Trie, flee to China in order to evade subpoenas.
But other than one 15-second item on Good Morning America on
how Clinton had asked China’s Jiang Zemin about funneling money into the
U.S., the morning and evening shows skipped the subject. Today’s
Matt Lauer interviewed National Security Adviser Sandy Berger on October
30, but didn’t say a thing about fundraising. The night before, however,
Ted Koppel did press Berger.
When Berger deflected Koppel’s question about what Clinton asked
Zemin, by saying the Chinese deny the allegations, Koppel pushed: "No, I
understand that. My question was did the President raise it and how
forcefully?" Berger claimed Zemin said "he would cooperate." Koppel
interjected: "Including sending Charlie Trie back to the United States
or anyone else who may be sitting over there with information?" That led
to this exchange:
Berger: "I have no idea whether they have control or know where
Charlie Trie is or not."
Koppel: "Oh, I’ll bet you they could find him if they wanted to and I
think you know that, too."
Berger: "No, I think this is an investigation being conducted by the
Justice Department, being conducted by congressional committees, not
Koppel: "I’m simply asking did the President or anyone in his behalf
ask the Chinese would they send Charlie Trie back?"
Berger: "The President said will you cooperate with investigations
and the Chinese said yes."
Koppel: "But is it your understanding that when that sort of broad
question is raised that that includes within it, I mean would Chinese
cooperation include returning to the United States people who are being
sought here under subpoena for questioning by Congress?"
Berger: "Well, if that is something that is part of the
Koppel: "Well, I think it is. Don’t you?"
Huang Scored Better Than Thompson
Networks Helped Clinton
Not only were the Senate fundraising committee
hearings buried by the deaths of Versace and Diana, but a new study from
the Center for Media Public Affairs (CMPA) discovered that Democrats got
much better press than Republicans. The CMPA story count matches
previous MediaWatch studies which determined that network
stories on Versace outnumbered ones on fundraising by six-to-one and
pieces related to Diana outdistanced fundraising by seven-to-one.
CMPA looked just at the 35 days when hearings were
held and found that on the broadcast network evening news shows in July
"there were nearly twice as many stories on serial killer Andrew Cunanan
(67) as there were on the hearings (37)." The second round "produced
fewer than one fourth as many stories (19) as the death of Princess
The President fared better than anyone else in the few
stories which did air. CMPA "noted every positive and negative
evaluation about all individuals involved in the controversy" whether
from a reporter or in a soundbite in order to measure "each individual’s
success or failure in getting the media to carry his/her side of the
"No one was more successful in this endeavor than Bill
Clinton," the September/October edition of the group’s newsletter
documented. "Just as we found in our 1994 report on the Whitewater
controversy, the President fared better than either his political
opponents or other members of his own administration in getting his side
of the story out over the airwaves. Three out of every four evaluations
of Mr. Clinton were favorable or supportive of his behavior, a far
higher positive proportion than any other individual received."
In fact, Clinton collected the least negative press
(at 25 percent) of all those measured. He rated far better than Fred
Thompson who got 79 percent negative versus 21 percent positive press.
Even John Huang did slightly better than Thompson: 69 percent negative
to 31 percent positive. And Charlie Trie fared only a little worse than
the Senator, as 17 percent of network assessments of the fugitive were
positive. Al Gore went 50-50 and ex-Energy Secretary O’Leary garnered 36
percent positive press, 15 points better than Thompson.
As CMPA explained: "Democrats on the whole fared
better than Republicans in defending their motives and behavior over the
airwaves. Overall, members of the Clinton administration received nearly
balanced coverage (46% positive to 54% negative)." In contrast,
"evaluations of Republicans were 70 percent negative overall, and
Republicans in Congress fared even worse — 74 percent negative."
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