CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday March 7, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 39) |
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Bush’s Anti-Minority Census; No Outrage Over Byrd’s Racially-Derogatory Comment; Ted Turner: Are You "a Bunch of Jesus Freaks?"

1) Without noting how the civil service staff at the Census Bureau had recommended against using statistically-adjusted numbers, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows all asserted that the standard numerical count, favored by Commerce Secretary Don Evans, missed many minorities and the poor.

2) The cable and broadcast networks have ignored how the Senate’s senior Democrat used a racially-derogatory term in a TV interview, the panel on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume observed. "There would have been a huge uproar" if Jesse Helms had said it, FNC’s Jim Angle suggested.

3) Ted Turner to attendees at Bernard Shaw’s retirement party on Ash Wednesday who had smudges on their foreheads, as reported by FNC’s Brit Hume: "What are you, a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox."

4) Instead of asking Senator Arlen Specter if he had any regrets about voting against convicting Bill Clinton, she wanted to know if he had "any regrets" about accusing Anita Hill of perjury.

5) So far, the broadcast networks have avoided pushing more gun control in the wake of the Santee school shooting, but both CNN and MSNBC delved into the subject on Tuesday night.

6) CBS’s Barry Petersen pointed out that while the Japanese have demanded apologies for the U.S. sinking of a fishing boat, Japan has never apologized for "the brutal treatment of American prisoners during World War II."

7) Conservative Paul Greenberg is back on the air at a Little Rock public radio station.


No wonder many minorities see Republicans and conservatives as their enemies. Tuesday night, without bothering to point out how the civil service staff at the Census Bureau had recommended against using statistically-adjusted numbers, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows all asserted that the standard numerical count, which Commerce Secretary Don Evans decided to use, missed many of the poor and minorities.

    ABC’s Peter Jennings at least attributed the claim to Democrats, but CBS’s Dan Rather and NBC’s Tom Brokaw asserted it as fact. Brokaw highlighted how the decision was made "despite estimates showing as many as three million, three hundred thousand people, mostly minorities in big cities, were missed by the count." Of course, none of the stories relayed the conservative point that the Constitution calls for an "enumeration," not a statistical estimate.

    Here are the short items read by each anchor on Tuesday night, March 6:

    -- Peter Jennings on ABC’s World News Tonight: "The Bush administration has declared the initial raw head count from the U.S. Census to be the country’s official population. This ends a fierce dispute over the numbers, which determine billions of dollars in government spending and the allocation of seats in the Congress. The Democrats have said it’s an inaccurate count because more than three million people according to them, mostly minorities, were not counted."

    -- Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News tied the decision directly to President Bush: "Team Bush is moving tonight on two issues with widespread political and social impact. First, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, carrying out the President’s wishes, has now officially decided the 2000 Census will not be adjusted to make up for any undercount of the nation’s poor and minorities. And then there are the major regulation changes issued by the Clinton White House, designed to reduce workplace injuries. Those rules could be dead before they’re ever enforced."

    Bob Schieffer went on to provide a story on how the Senate will block Clinton’s motion injury rules opposed by "big business."

    -- Tom Brokaw on the NBC Nightly News: "A battle that’s been brewing for more than a year over the 2000 Census is over tonight. The Bush administration has declared the raw head count from last year’s census to be the official population number for redrawing congressional districts. This despite estimates showing as many as three million, three hundred thousand people, mostly minorities in big cities, were missed by the count. Democrats and civil rights leaders had been pushing for a statistically-adjusted total to protect against an undercount of minorities in this country."

    Last Friday, March 2, the Washington Post reported that the Census Bureau’s non-political civil service staff had recommended against using adjusted numbers because they were not necessarily any more accurate than the raw numerical count.

    An excerpt from the story by reporter D'Vera Cohn:

Census Bureau officials yesterday urged against adjusting the 2000 Census to compensate for people who were missed, dashing the hopes of Democrats and civil rights leaders that such an adjustment could be used in redrawing political boundaries.

The recommendation was a surprise because census officials previously have portrayed adjustment as a solution to chronic undercounts. But yesterday, they said they could not guarantee that adjusted census numbers would be more accurate than results from mail-in questionnaires and a door-to-door count last year.

A survey conducted after the head count concluded that the census had missed 3 million people, including a disproportionate number of minorities. But census officials said yesterday they had questions about the validity of that survey and until those questions are answered, which could be months, they could not recommend adjustment.

"We were afraid it would be less accurate," said John H. Thompson, associate census director....

Census officials said they did not have enough confidence in the adjusted numbers to release them yet, though they expect to do so eventually.

"The issue is: Is it fit for use?" said William G. Barron, acting census director. "And I don't think we can say that now."...

The decision by a committee of a dozen career census professionals was based on an analysis of a 314,000-household survey conducted last summer as a quality check on the head count last year. The survey concluded that the census had done a better job than it had in 1990, though many people had been left out.

But census officials say they could not rely on the survey as the basis for adjusting census figures because they were troubled about possible statistical errors and discrepancies with other official documents, such as birth, death and immigration records.

    END Excerpt


If Jesse Helms had said it "there would have been a huge uproar." The panel Tuesday night on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume took up the lack of network media reaction to the use of a racially-derogatory term by Democratic Senator Robert Byrd made during a taped interview with Tony Snow shown on this past weekend’s Fox News Sunday.

    First, a summary of what he said and reaction to it as reported in Monday’s USA Today, one of the few stories about it:
    "Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., used a derogatory racial term on Fox News Sunday during a discussion of race relations. Byrd, 83, said that racial problems ‘are largely behind us.’ But he also said that ‘there are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I'm going to use that word.’ After the taping Friday, Byrd apologized for using the word, according to a statement read on the show Sunday. ‘The phrase dates back to my boyhood and has no place in today's society,’ he said. ‘I had no intention of casting aspersions on anyone of another race.’ A former majority leader and president pro tem of the Senate, Byrd referred to his once joining the Ku Klux Klan: ‘I made a mistake when I was a young man. It's always been an albatross around my neck.’"

    Despite a short article in Monday’s Washington Post quoting NAACP President Kweisi Mfume calling the remark "repulsive," the larger media have not jumped on this story. None of the broadcast network morning or evening shows touched it Sunday night or Monday morning. And while the school shooting and Dick Cheney’s hospitalization gave them an excuse Monday night, not even the other cable networks caught up on Tuesday night: Not a word on the March 6 editions of the CNN shows Inside Politics, Wolf Blitzer Reports or CNN Tonight, nor any mention on MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams.

    Tuesday night on his FNC program Brit Hume raised the lack of media interest. Hume set up the roundtable discussion segment, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
    "Over the weekend on Fox News Sunday, Senator Robert Byrd, the senior Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Senator of West Virginia, used the ‘N word’ in a certain context with reference to white people. And today, Tuesday, Dick Armey, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, a Republican, had something to say about that. And what Armey said was, ‘I think it was stupid and I think that since he is a Democrat, he’ll be forgiven. I was appalled by it,’ he later added. ‘I couldn’t believe it.’ Question: Is Dick Armey right? Mara?"

    Mara Liaison of NPR recalled how Armey might be especially sensitive since he was condemned for once referring to Barney Frank as "Barney Fag."

    Hume observed: "Compared to this, wasn’t the ‘Barney Fag’ thing more of an uproar than this is?"

    Fred Barnes suggested a contrast with media reaction to something Jesse Helms once said: "Look, just think if Jesse Helms of North Carolina, the Republican Senator, had said this, I’m telling you this would be the lead every night until he went back to North Carolina. I mean there would be an effort to get him to resign. Now just remember when he jokingly said a couple of years ago that well gee, if Bill Clinton comes down to North Carolina, he’s going to need a body guard because he was unpopular in North Carolina. It was in about the twenty-fourth graph of a story in a North Carolina newspaper, was plucked out of there and it was a story for days about Jesse Helms threatening President Clinton with bodily harm. It was a joke."

    Hume turned to FNC reporter Jim Angle: "What’s your sense of what would happen had this been a senior Republican on a par with Byrd like Helms?"
    Angle confirmed: "Oh, there would have been a huge uproar. I mean you did have Kweisi Mfume of the NAACP saying this was repulsive and revealing, but one does get the sense that it will die down fairly quickly, that at least what Mfume was saying was, you know, it’s very revealing, you sort of get sense of Byrd, but it’s not going to have the lasting impact and it’s not going to tar the party in a way that it would if a Republican had said it."

    Yes indeed thanks to a lack of media outrage.


Ted Turner insulted attendees at Bernard Shaw’s retirement party, asking those on Ash Wednesday with a smudge on their foreheads if they were "a bunch of Jesus freaks," FNC’s Brit Hume reported Tuesday night.

    Hume revealed during his "Grapevine" segment on Special Report with Brit Hume:
    "CNN founder Ted Turner, in town last week for a retirement party for anchor Bernard Shaw, left the staff stunned after meeting with them at the network’s Washington bureau. It was Ash Wednesday and a number of those present still had a smudge on their forehead. ‘What are you?’ asked Turner, ‘a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox.’ Turner, it may be remembered, stirred controversy a decade ago when he said Christianity is, quote, ‘for losers.’ He apologized for that, but as recently as last August criticized Christianity for being, quote, ‘very intolerant.’"

    Sounds like he’s the intolerant one.


Given his recent outrage over Bill Clinton’s pardons, you’d think a reporter might ask Senator Arlen Specter if he "regrets" voting not guilty in Clinton’s Senate trial. Or, in Specter’s bizarre parlance, "not proven" under "Scottish law." But no, given a chance to review Specter’s career, NBC’s Katie Couric wanted to know if he had "any regrets" for accusing Anita Hill of perjury.

    MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed the question during a Tuesday Today interview with the liberal Republican Senator about his new book on his career. She started by asking him about his work for the Warren Commission, but soon arrived at this question:
    "You know you, you angered a lot of feminists when you accused Anita Hill. In fact you detail how she changed her testimony during questioning, during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. And you accused of her publicly, quote, 'Flat out perjury.' Any regrets?"


So far the broadcast networks have avoided raising gun control in the aftermath of the Santee, California school shooting, but on Tuesday night both CNN and MSNBC devoted segments to it. On Monday night and Tuesday morning and night about the closest ABC, CBS or NBC got to the issue was this observation by Bill Whitaker on Monday’s CBS Evening News: "The young man in custody tonight is small for his age, no one thought him capable of such violence...but there were so many warnings signs and available guns."

    Tuesday’s The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC brought aboard Washington Post reporter John Lancaster to discuss, as prompted by Brian Williams, "What happened to the discussion of gun control that followed Columbine?"

    On Monday and Tuesday night on Inside Politics CNN’s Judy Woodruff asked guests about gun control and Wolf Blitzer devoted a whole segment of Tuesday’s Wolf Blitzer Reports to the subject as he conducted a live interview with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions and Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein. Blitzer did press Feinstein with Sessions’s point that California already has tough gun laws, including a ban on gun possession by anyone under 18.

    But no network has yet devoted a story to the failure of California’s gun control laws. MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey passed along a list of some of the laws in place in California:

     -- Juvenile gun ban: A person under 18 may not possess a handgun except with written permission or under the supervision of a parent or guardian. A minor under 16 may not possess live ammunition except with the written permission or under the supervision of a parent or guardian, or while going to or from an organized lawful recreational or competitive shooting activity or lawful hunting activity.

     -- Background checks on all gun sales: Transfer or sale of all firearms (including those exhibited at gun shows) must be made by a licensed California gun dealer. A record of each sale is sent by the dealer to the California Department of Justice and the local police chief or sheriff, who conduct a background check including a check of the National Instant Check System (NICS).

    -- No transfers to juveniles: It is unlawful for any person to transfer any firearm to a person who is forbidden to possess or own a firearm. A dealer may not transfer a pistol (or handgun ammunition) to a person under 21 or other firearm to a person under 18.

    -- Gun registration for new residents: Within 60 days of bringing a handgun into California, the person importing the firearm must complete and return a Department of Justice registration form or sell or transfer the firearm to a licensed dealer, sheriff or police department.

    -- Waiting period: There is a 10-day waiting period before delivery of any firearm.

    -- Mandatory training: No handgun shall be delivered or sold unless the person receiving the firearm presents to the gun dealer a basic firearms safety certificate approved by the California Department of Justice.

    -- Restrictive carry laws: It is unlawful to carry a loaded rifle, shotgun, or handgun in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated area or an area where firing a firearm is prohibited. Carrying a handgun concealed is prohibited without a license, which is difficult or impossible to obtain in many California jurisdictions.

    -- Adult liability for juvenile crimes: It is unlawful (with limited exceptions) to store a loaded firearm where the person knows or reasonably should know that a child under 16 is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the child's parent or legal guardian and the child obtains access to the firearm and causes death or great bodily harm to self or any other person. Gun dealers must post a sign advising "If you leave a loaded firearm where a child obtains and improperly uses it, you may be fined or sent to prison."

    -- Gun-free schools: It is unlawful to possess a firearm on the grounds or in the buildings of any school without permission of the school authorities.

    As you watch the news over the next few days see whether reporters focus more on the need for more laws or more on how the present laws did not prevent the tragedy.


The Japanese never apologized. Last Friday night the CBS Evening News gave time to a historical point I’ve not seen explored elsewhere in the aftermath of the submarine crash into a Japanese fishing boat, though a guest did mention it Tuesday night on ABC’s Nightline: How the Japanese have never apologized for their war crimes.

    In a March 2 CBS Evening News story, Tokyo-based CBS reporter Barry Petersen showed how a long list of U.S. officials, from President Bush to the ambassador to an admiral, have all apologized for the incident in which a U.S. submarine sank a Japanese fishing boat, killing several aboard.

    Then Petersen observed: "Yet look at what the Japanese have never apologized for, like the estimated 350,000 Chinese slaughtered in Nanking, China, by a conquering Japanese army. It's an undisputed fact everywhere but in Japan."

    After a Japanese historian confirmed that "there is certain historians that believe that there was no killing of civilians at Nanking," Petersen continued: "And the brutal treatment of American prisoners during World War II. No apologies to them, either. And just last month, a former defense minister said America's pre-war trade embargo forced an unwilling Japan into World War II. Translation: Pearl Harbor was America's fault, so no need for the Japanese to say sorry."

    Petersen concluded: "Between two countries, it seems, making apologies is not always a two-way street."


An update on an item from last week: Paul Greenberg has been returned to the air by the Arkansas public radio station which had dropped his conservative commentary while continuing to air commentary from his liberal counterpart. See the March 1 CyberAlert for details:

    It turns out that by the time I had run the item, based on a Jim Romenesko MediaNews plug for the February 25 column by Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the situation had been resolved.

    An excerpt from Greenberg’s February 28 column:

It's such a pleasure to be writing today's column. How often does a guy go from anger and resentment to agreement and gratitude within 48 hours? From feeling beleaguered and alone to being assured and cheered by a wave of support from all over the state and beyond?

It all started when I was told not to show up for my weekly broadcast on public radio because my views had drawn criticism. Even though I'd been asked to do the commentary precisely because of my views, which were intended to balance those of the station's liberal commentator, John Brummett.

Why the turnaround? A brief e-mail last week from Ben Fry, KUAR's station manager, offered two explanations, both of which defied belief: First, my dismissal wasn't a dismissal because I would be considered for a representative panel of opinion in the future. Second, John Brummett's liberal commentary wasn't liberal commentary but a "feature," more "reporting...than an essay."

Furious, I sat down and punched out a two-part reply to Ben, which said, among quite a few other things: 1. "Your claim that I was not given the ax at KUAR is, let us say, interesting. If your boss told you not to show up for work any more but added that maybe at some future time you might be included in a panel that would do your job, would you have any doubt that you were being let go?"....

On Monday, the first message I found atop the pile of phone slips waiting for me at the office came from...John Brummett. He told me he agreed that his comments on KUAR were opinionated, and he suggested that he and I share air time -- so listeners would get two views to choose from. I am ashamed to confess that I was surprised. And humbled. I only hope that if John Brummett's opinions are ever censored, I can be as quick to rise to his defense....

Shortly after John Brummett and I had talked Monday, KUAR's Ben Fry was on the line proposing that both John and I answer questions on a weekly broadcast. Ben said he'd always wanted to offer different views on KUAR. I was happy to hear it, and eager to accept his proposal. Why hold a grudge? It interferes with the digestion.

So I'm back on the air, together with John, as of 4:50 p.m. Friday. And looking forward to it.

This whole experience has been heartening. And exhilarating. I had underestimated my fellow citizens and their instinctive dedication to free speech. They taught me better. They came out in strength, and I thank every one of them. Whatever their own political views, they don't like seeing somebody else's squelched. Hey, this is America.
    END Excerpt

    Greenberg’s whole piece may still be on line, but no guarantees, at:

    Oh, and thanks for the numerous responses from CyberAlert readers who informed me that Paul Greenberg’s reference, in his column excerpted in the March 1 CyberAlert, to "the ledge," was short-hand for the Arkansas legislature. -- Brent Baker



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