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September 19, 2002
Katie Wright (703) 683-5004, ext. 132

MRC Launches Operation ATM (Audit The Media)


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ALEXANDRIA, Va. --- Media Research Center President Brent Bozell announced the launch of the MRC's Operation ATM (Audit The Media) today with the release of a new study, A Summer of Skewed News: The Liberal Tilt in TV's Economic Reporting. The study found the networks accentuated liberal themes on a range of key economic issues, including tax cuts, prescription drugs and corporate and accounting regulations. 

Through its new project, Operation: Audit The Media, the MRC will issue weekly reports and, at year’s end, rank the best and worst networks and reporters on coverage of economic policy issues.

“Our findings today document that the networks’ economic reporting is in full liberal spin mode at a time when it’s most important Americans hear not just government-based but free market-based solutions to pressing economic issues. If this trend continues, the public will be most misinformed when they’re supposed to make informed choices,” Bozell said.

Selected Highlights from A Summer of Skewed News

• Most reporters presented new government regulations as the only way to “restore confidence” after the corporate accounting scandals. In less than four hours on July 15, ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC all repeated the same liberal line when contrasting regulations proposed by the Senate with “weaker” ones passed by the House.

• Network reporters presented the increasing federal deficit as a terrible economic development, but their concern evaporated when covering the debate over prescription drugs. Instead of exploring the uncontrollable costs of another federal entitlement, ABC, CBS and NBC showcased anecdotes about a handful of cash-strapped senior citizens with sky-high drug bills – stories designed to stoke emotions, not inform the public.

• Some correspondents openly editorialized. CBS's Bob Schieffer opined on July 23 that if Congress did not pass a prescription drug bill that seniors would “get the shaft.” When the Senate ended attempts to reach agreement on a bill, CNN's Daryn Kagan scolded lawmakers from her anchor desk: “Shame on all of them.”

• Network reporters’ concern about the deficit manifested itself in a renewal of last year's hostile coverage of the Bush tax cut. One example of how pervasive this bias was: even the usually balanced Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, championed an early end to the tax cut. He posed 40 questions about diluting or repealing the tax cut, but never once asked whether pro-growth benefits should be accelerated. In a five-and-a-half minute segment on September 1, Russert asked about rolling back Bush’s tax cut an average of once every 41 seconds.

Bozell sent the new study to the presidents of ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and Fox News today, along with an “Audit Letter” exhorting the networks to provide more balanced coverage. 

“It is my hope that by shining a light on network news coverage of economic issues, MRC’s ‘Operation: Audit The Media’ will encourage you to give equal weight to market-based and government-based solutions to pressing economic issues, from prescription drugs to the national deficit,” Bozell wrote in his letter to the network presidents.

To view the full report and Bozell’s letters to the networks go to www.mediaresearch.org.

To schedule an interview with Mr. Bozell contact Katie Wright at
(703)-683-5004, ext. 132.




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