CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Tuesday May 16, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 84) |
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Bush’s SS Plan Welcomed & Denounced; Mom March Agenda Pushed; Labeling Disparity

1) ABC’s Peter Jennings gave Bush’s SS private investment idea a warm welcome, but Betsy Stark worried "there’s no guarantee investors will invest wisely" or the "stock market will go up." Tom Brokaw called it a "controversial strategy" and Dan Rather relayed how Gore says it risks "ruining" the "social safety net."

2) "We may look back on this one as one of those demonstrations that led to real change," hoped CBS’s Bob Schieffer in reviewing the Million Mom March. NBC’s Lisa Myers looked at the effort "to transform a one day success into a political movement."

3) Today and GMA gave Donna Dees-Thomases another platform Monday morning while GMA’s Charles Gibson empathized with a marcher’s cause: "I sense a great frustration in you" because people don’t realize your son died and "something has to be done about that."

4) Amongst Sunday’s march speakers: Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen, who scolded: "Why should the members of Congress listen to us?...I want you to repeat them after me. ‘Because I said so!’"

5) Washington Post labeling in a story on a California House race: It’s the "conservative" Jim Rogan versus "a California State Senator named Adam Schiff" with no noteworthy ideology.

6) Letterman’s "Top Ten Signs Mayor Giuliani Is In Love With You."

     >>> "Loaded Coverage: How the news media miss the mark on the gun issue," a piece in the June edition of Reason magazine by Washington Times Deputy Editorial Page Editor Kenneth Smith, cites the MRC’s January study by Geoffrey Dickens on gun control coverage:
    "Some of the findings concerning the way journalists miss the mark on guns may be familiar. For instance, there's the tally of pro-gun control and pro-gun rights statements on news programs. In ‘Outgunned: How the Network News Media Are Spinning the Gun Control Debate,’ which the MRC released in January, the group tracked the number of statements supporting gun control vs. the number supporting gun rights on evening news broadcasts on ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN, and on morning news programs on ABC, NBC, and CBS....During the two-year period from July 1, 1997, through June 30, 1999, the MRC counted 653 gun-related stories. Those advocating more gun control outnumbered stories opposing gun control by 357 to 36, or a ratio of almost 10 to 1. The rest were neutral. In addition, the organization found that the networks were twice as likely to broadcast anti-gun soundbites as pro-gun ones. Gun control advocates appeared on the morning shows as guests on 82 occasions, compared to just 37 for gun-rights activists."
    To read the Reason article, go to:
    For the entire MRC study, go to: <<<


George Bush’s Social Security reform plan announcement topped both the ABC and CBS evening shows Monday night while NBC also dedicated a full story to it after leading with a study on how the cancer rate is declining.

    ABC’s Peter Jennings gave Bush’s plan a warm welcome by noting how it matches the view of the majority of Americans who want to be able to invest their own Social Security money, but in a second story ABC’s Betsy Stark stressed criticism of how the plan "is so vague it is impossible to know how well retirees would do under it" while "there’s no guarantee investors will invest wisely" and "there’s no guarantee the stock market will go up as it has in the past."

    Both ABC and NBC included Al Gore’s reaction to what Tom Brokaw labeled Bush’s "controversial strategy," but only Dan Rather put Gore’s rebuke into the top of the show opening as he relayed how Bush’s proposal means "changes Democrat Al Gore says risk ruining a great American social safety net." Rather also noted how a new CBS News poll found Bush eight points ahead of Gore, but he offered this admonition: "Polls this early in campaigns raise a lot of questions about reliability."

    Earlier, on CNN’s Inside Politics, Brooks Jackson insisted there is no painless solution: "Those details that George W. Bush isn’t giving are important. Depending on the approach, proposals like his can be expensive or painful." He summarized some past proposals which either meant more costs up front or fewer benefits later, before concluding: "There is no pain free, cost free solution."

    Here’s how the three broadcast network evening shows on Monday night, May 15, handled Bush’s Social Security proposal, made possible with some transcribing help from the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth.

    -- ABC’s World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show:
    "We begin tonight with Social Security. As we get into the story, you will hear again from a poll we’ve just done that a healthy majority of Americans support a plan by which they could invest some of the Social Security contributions in the stock market. Here we are in the middle of the presidential campaign and today George W. Bush laid out his ideas for reforming Social Security and that private option is right at the heart of it."

    From California, Dean Reynolds summarized Bush’s assurance that those on the program can relax as nothing will change for them, but for those younger things must change or Social Security will collapse. Unlike CBS and NBC, Reynolds highlighted this warning shot from Bush aimed at Democratic demagoguery: "The days of spreading fear and panic are over. The days of delaying, dividing and demagoging are over."
    Reynolds noted Bush will appoint a commission to work out the details, before reporting how Gore said Bush "would take the security out of Social Security."

    Next, Peter Jennings relayed a poll finding complimentary to Bush’s plan: "That ABC poll, by the way, on Social Security, finds Americans continue to have serious doubts about its future. Only 38 percent expect to ever receive their benefits, and it’s 64 percent of the people who support a plan to invest some of their contributions in the market. So how will it work? Well, we actually don’t know a lot, as Dean Reynolds said. The details are yet to come. But for a start, here’s ABC’s Betsy Stark."

    Stark started by looking a 35-year-old guy who would like to invest his own money. At an income of $32,000 a year, she explained, he would now get $1,155 month from Social Security, but with just 2 percent invested privately that would go up to $1,423 a month.

    Then Stark took on the very idea of any market options: "The problem is the Bush plan is so vague it is impossible to know how well retirees would do under it. First, there’s no guarantee investors will invest wisely, whether it’s in stocks, bonds, or something else. There’s no guarantee the stock market will go up as it has in the past or that it will be higher at retirement. And that’s a problem because the whole point of Social Security is to provide a guarantee."
    After allowing Edith Rasell of the Economic Policy Institute to insist Social Security money "should not be put at risk," Stark concluded by trying to be even-handed: "The risk to the future of Social Security is already there. The question unanswered today is how this proposal effects it."

    -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather announced at the top of the program:
    "Good evening. George Bush today outlined his Republican plan for major changes in Social Security, changes Democrat Al Gore says risk ruining a great American social safety net. This came as a CBS News/New York Times poll came out tonight suggesting Bush’s lead over Al Gore may have grown since April. Polls this early in campaigns raise a lot of questions about reliability, but our poll does indicate a possible shift in Bush’s favor among white male voters, a block that usually helps Republicans. And on Social Security, an issue that usually helps Democrats, our poll finds Gore’s lead in only in single digits."

    The poll numbers, as listed on screen, had Bush ahead of Gore by 47 to 39 percent but the public preferring Gore on Social Security by the flip-side: 47 to 39 percent. For a complete rundown of the poll, go to:,1597,195691-412,00.shtml

    CBS reporter John Roberts proceeded to summarize the Bush proposal to give taxpayers control over a portion of their money and how Gore criticized it as a "roll the dice." Roberts added: "The 2030 Center, a liberal think tank for young people, agrees with the Vice President and favors Gore’s plan to use savings from paying down the national debt to keep Social Security afloat." After a soundbite from a 2030 Center guy, Roberts pointed out how the CBS poll discovered 62 percent of those under 45 favor a private investment option, which is better for them, noted Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, in a balancing soundbite.

    -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw called Bush’s idea "controversial" in introducing a story by David Gregory: "Now to presidential politics and George W. Bush’s plan for your money. Tonight he has released details on his controversial strategy for fixing Social Security."

    Gregory outlined Bush’s plan: "Speaking to seniors outside Los Angeles today, Governor Bush calls Social Security a defining American promise and offers his boldest policy proposal yet, a plan to save the program by allowing workers to invest part of their payroll taxes in the stock market."
    After a Bush soundbite, Gregory continued: "Under the Bush plan, younger workers could invest a small portion of their payroll tax in the stock market. Most plans call for two percent. Bush says no day trading, just steady reliable funds. Bush also promises no changes for current retirees or those nearing retirement and no increase in payroll taxes. But how will Bush pay for a transition to a new system? Would he have to cut benefits? He refuses to say, offering only principles instead of details. Aides say those will have to be worked out if he’s elected. Today Vice President Gore responds, calling the Bush plan risky."
    Al Gore: "Under the Bush plan, you could lose some or all of the money that you invest, and millions could be left without enough to make ends meet."
    Gregory: "The Vice President says he would leave Social Security unchanged. Instead, Gore says he would shore up the program with interest savings generated by paying down the debt. Such an approach, he contends, would preserve Social Security for another fifty years..."

    Gregory wrapped up by pointing how something must be done as the program runs out of money in 2037, but that Bush is taking a political risk in talking about Social Security.


The night after Sunday’s Million Mom March, ABC offered no follow up, but both CBS and NBC wished along its goals. "We may look back on this one as one of those demonstrations that led to real change," hoped CBS’s Bob Schieffer. NBC’s Lisa Myers highlighted how march organizers are trying "to transform a one day success into a political movement." Myers concluded by suggesting: "Republicans in close races admit to being nervous, that women just might, for the first time, cast their votes on this issue."

    On the May 15 CBS Evening News Dan Rather adopted the "gun safety" spin favored by gun control advocates, declaring: "Another defining election year issue may be picking up political steam, the push for new gun safety laws."

    Bob Schieffer trumpeted: "Yesterday’s turnout was impressive by any standard and we may look back on this one as one of those demonstrations that led to real change. The crowd was estimated between half and three quarters of a million people, far beyond anyone’s expectations."
    Schieffer explained how the organizers are tracking candidate views and ran a soundbite from Hillary-donor/march organizer Donna Dees-Thomases, though he of course did not mention her liberal political background, who explained how she plans to follow the NRA’s model and set up a grassroots lobbying effort.
    Schieffer concluded: "The moms all but admit there’s probably not enough time to have much influence on the current Congress, but if all this works they’ll have a major say on who gets elected to the next one."

    Over on Monday’s NBC Nightly News, Lisa Myers announced: "The day after hundreds of thousands of mothers cried enough is enough, organizers of the Million Mom March try to transform a one day success into a political movement. This morning the march organizer challenges the gun lobby."
    Donna Dees-Thomases, on Today: "They should look out on the Mall and have seen those people yesterday, thousands and thousands of people demanding stricter gun laws. I think they know, they are worried, they are scared that we will now have our say in Congress, and if Congress doesn’t listen to us then we’ll elect a new Congress."

    So much for the march being apolitical.

    Myers played soundbites from two marchers and noted how gun violence hit home in Congress as the 17-year-old son of Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak used a gun over the weekend to commit suicide. She showed a clip of Clinton prodding Congress to take action, before noting: "Although Texas Governor George W. Bush praised the march, many Republican leaders dismiss it as a Democratic publicity stunt." Republican pollster Ed Goeas suggested it will just be a story for a couple of days. Myers then concluded it could be much more:
    "Tonight there is no evidence that the march softened the opposition of Republican leaders to gun control, but some Republicans in close races admit to being nervous, that women just might, for the first time, cast their votes on this issue."


As noted in item #2 above, Donna Dees-Thomases got a solo interview slot on Monday’s Today. On Monday she also made her fourth appearance of the year on ABC’s Good Morning America. GMA carried its post Million Mom March coverage through two half hours, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, with a glowing review of the march and interviews not only with Dees-Thomases but another marcher who participated in Friday’s GMA broadcast from the White House. ABC’s Charles Gibson didn’t challenge the premise of their march, just whether they have the "mettle" to push their agenda.

    Late in the 7am half hour Charles Gibson announced: "And finally this half-hour, Diane, we turn to that Million Mom March. That was, of course, our focus in our broadcast from the White House this past Friday. The moms came to Washington and to other cities by the busloads, toting diaper bags and bottled water. Yesterday they were demonstrating for what they call common sense gun laws, and ABC's John Yang sums it up."
    John Yang relayed: "...For tens of thousands of mothers and their families and friends, Mother's Day was marching day, marching to demand tougher gun laws....Washington's was the largest of 70 marches in cities across the country, including Atlanta and Chicago. In many cities, there were also counter demonstrations."

    Yang picked up on a face familiar to GMA viewers: "In Washington, one of the Million Mom marchers was Linda Halpin, who joined us for our meeting with President Clinton at the White House on Friday."
    Halpin: "I do not want another mother to see, to look at what I'm looking at, a death certificate for a boy."
    Yang: "On her way to the march, she recalled last year's Mother's Day, the day her son died....At the march, tears turned to determination. For Linda and thousands of others, it was an emotional Mother's Day."

    Back live, Gibson talked briefly with Donna Dees-Thomases, "the founder of the Million Mom March," whom he asked: "I've covered many a march in my days as a reporter in Washington and after the speeches are made and the songs are sung and people are going home, they say to each other, 'Now what?' So I ask you, now what?"

    Dees-Thomases got to stick around into the next half hour, which Gibson set up: "We're going to continue our discussion on the Million Mom March, and joining us again from Washington is Donna Dees-Thomases, the founder of the event, and with me here in New York is Linda Halpin, who, as you heard in John Yang's piece and we mentioned on Friday, her son died in a shooting on last Mother's Day. Donna, let me come back to you, because we had a chance to talk briefly in the last half-hour, and you said, okay, now we have to turn to electoral politics. So are you saying that this group, the Million Moms, will prove their mettle on election day, or not?"

    Gibson’s other questions:
    -- "But Donna, the history is that people who do favor stricter gun laws don't base their vote on that issue, or haven't in the past."
    -- "But are you telling me if you don't turn the Congress around in this next election that this will have been for naught?"
    -- "Linda Halpin, let me turn to you. You did your lose your son a year ago on Mother's Day, right?...Did you draw strength on Sunday from all those people that were on the Mall?"
    -- "When we were with you on Friday in the Roosevelt Room at the White House and you were questioning the President, and I could feel sort of from your body language -- we were sitting right next to one another -- you were almost saying, 'Don't people see that my son died, and as a result something has to be done about that,' and yet the political process doesn't work that way, and I sense a great frustration in you because of it."
    -- "Did all this turn you into an activist?"

    If it did, she’s now qualified to be a network correspondent.


Amongst the speakers at Sunday’s Million Mom March: Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen. Imagine the outrage if alternate week Newsweek columnist George Will ever appeared before a gun rights rally. But it’s okay for Quindlen, apparently because she’s on the media’s side of the issue.

    MRC intern Michael Ferguson took down some of what she spewed, as shown on C-SPAN:
    "Who are we? Who are we? We are the mothers of America. We are the people who ate protein during our pregnancies....Don’t dare tell us that we don’t have the right to keep those children safe. We are the people who put latches on the kitchen cabinets, baby gates on the stairs, car seats in the back of a minivan....Don’t dare tell us that we don’t have the right to keep our children safe. But that is exactly what we’ve been told every time common sense gun legislation has been defeated by the Congress of the United States....

    "We know about the Second Amendment. The second amendment guarantees us the right to a militia, not the right to no questions asked gun purchases. But before our children learned the second amendment, they learned about the Declaration of Independence, and that guarantees them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness....

    "They [the kids] deserve to be safe from gun violence, to have moderate, sensible laws that safeguard all of our kids—the kids of police officers, the kids of hunters, and the kids of NRA members, too....

    "Over and over the ones who take money from the NRA have said that new gun laws won’t solve all our problems. Well, maybe they won’t solve all our problems. Maybe they’ll just save a handful of kids. Maybe they’ll only save one. Maybe it’ll be your kid who lives, or yours, or mine, or maybe even one of theirs...."

    She concluded with a mother’s scold: "Why should the members of Congress listen to us? Well, I’ll use the words I’ve used so many times to Quin, Chris and Maria. And I want you to repeat them after me. ‘Because I said so. Because I said so. Because I said so!’"

    Not very persuasive with kids or Congress.


The "conservative" Jim Rogan versus "a California State Senator named Adam Schiff" with no noteworthy ideology. That’s how the May 10 Washington Post described the two candidates in California’s 27th congressional district.

    "Ignoring Impeachment," read the headline over the subhead: "In California’s 27th, Rogan and Rival Woo Armenians with Issues Beyond Clinton’s Trial." From Glendale, California, reporter William Booth asserted: "The upcoming congressional race here is being billed as the ultimate grudge match."

    His next two paragraphs displayed a disparity in labeling:
    "In the ring is Rep. Jim Rogan, the conservative Republican who served as one of the leading House prosecutors in the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton. Rogan is seeking reelection here in the San Fernando Valley and its environs, the sprawling burb-towns of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena.
    "A California state senator named Adam Schiff has taken up the challenge to oppose Rogan, and has already won Round One, when he garnered 49 percent of the vote in the March open primary, to Rogan's 47 percent.

    Nowhere else in the story was Schiff tagged ideologically.


From the May 11 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Mayor Giuliani Is In Love With You." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Shows up with wine, cheese and court order forcing you to picnic with him
9. Thanks to a city maintenance crew, Statue of Liberty now looks like you
8. Rent mysteriously lowered to $8,000 a month
7. Casually say you're dog person, next day he announces "Cats" is closing
6. If you date him, promises to break up with other chicks he's nailing
5. "Walk"/"Don't Walk" signs now read "Take All The Time You Need, Sweetheart"
4. You win two bucks in Lotto -- there's a tickertape parade in your honor
3. When he visits you, combover is in shape of a heart
2. Cops bust down door to leave love notes from "your secret admirer"
1. Says to spend time with you, he'd even endorse Hillary

    You have to be a New Yorker to get #8. -- Brent Baker



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