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CyberAlert -- 01/08/1998 -- Tagging Bono

Tagging Bono; Caring Clinton Helps Kids; Iranian Excess

1) You can't escape labeling by dying -- if you are conservative.
The networks immediately tagged Bono, but not Kennedy.

2) Clinton's Medicare and day care spending proposals bring more
victims to TV. Tom Brokaw relayed the White House spin about Clinton's
"plan to provide more and better care for America's children."

3) CNN's Christiane Amanpour suggests to Iran's Khatami that the
hostage-taking was just a revolutionary "excess" -- like what
happened during the the U.S. Revolution.


1

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Bias even in death. Hours after Sonny Bono's death was
announced the morning shows were already making sure everyone
knew he was conservative, but the morning after Michael Kennedy
died the same shows refrained from applying a liberal label to
the political activist who managed liberal campaigns and helped
create liberal groups.

-- On the January 6 Good Morning America reporter Ken
Kashiwahara explained, as caught by MRC analyst Gene Eliasen:

"In the 1980s, Bono became a restaurant owner before deciding
to enter politics, running for mayor of Palm Springs, a desert
community southeast of Los Angeles. Sonny Bono was first elected
to Congress in 1994 as a Republican, supporting such conservative
programs as the Contract with America."

-- Over on NBC's Today Matt Lauer noted:

"A lot will be said about Congressman Bono today and of
course he was a conservative Republican so there are people who
are on the other side of the political spectrum but few people
will say anything but that they liked him."

-- CBS's This Morning, MRC analyst Steve Kaminski documented,
made sure viewers realized Bono's conservative views. News reader
Cynthia Bowers asserted:

"Sonny Bono was about to be sworn in to his third term on
Capitol Hill, he came to Washington in 1994 as a conservative
Republican. Bill Plante joins us now from the White House with
more on the political aspect and side to Bono's life. Good
Morning, Bill."

Bill Plante:

"The Congressman Sonny Bono came here as part of
the Republican tide, the sweep of 1994. He was a loyal
conservative, a supporter of Newt Gingrich's Contract with
America. In the halls of Congress, Bono was loyal to the party.
He voted against same-sex marriage despite the fact that his
daughter Chastity is a lesbian activist, he criticized the
National Endowment of the Arts...."

-- Quite a contrast with how the networks characterized
Kennedy's life. Today, GMA and This Morning never called Kennedy
a liberal on January 1. But MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens recalled
this more typical description as offered by reporter Pat Dawson
on the January 1 NBC Nightly News:

"The sixth of Robert Kennedy's 11 children is described as a
private thoughtful man who preferred working behind the scenes
....Mostly he was a keeper of the Kennedy causes, running a non-
profit energy company providing fuel to the poor and co-founding
a Massachusetts anti-gun group."

2

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Another series of spending proposals from Clinton
generated another round of network stories that put a higher
priority on illustrating the supposed problem and the victims
Clinton would rescue than in examining whether a real problem
exists. Tuesday brought expansion of Medicare, Wednesday a
proposal for a new day care spending spree. But don't worry,
Peter Jennings assured viewers that the government will pay the
child care bill, not taxpayers, and NBC's David Bloom falsely
claimed that all parents would be able to benefit from Clinton's
tax credit plan.

-- On the January 6 World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings
intoned, as transcribed by the MRC's Gene Eliasen:

"Well, with Congress not in session, President Clinton has
the Washington stage to himself and he is using it to showcase a
string of new proposals. Today, Medicare. Mr. Clinton says he
wants to open it up for the first time to people younger than 65
and he wants to offer insurance help to workers who lose their
jobs. ABC's John Donvan is at the White House.

John Donvan:

"Mr. Clinton made it sound like something for
nothing, at no cost to taxpayers, a way to bring hundreds of
thousands of uninsured Americans into the Medicare system."
After a clip of Clinton, Donvan introduced a victim who would
be rescued by Clinton:

"But there are catches. Key idea is this: uninsured
Americans, still too young to get into Medicare, could buy their
way using their own money, about $300 to 400 a month. The
proposal targets Americans over 55 who have lost their employer
provided health insurance and those between 62 and 64 who can't
get private insurance because of cost or pre-existing medical
problems. Ruth Kain, at 64, is in that second group. Well enough
to take part in today's announcement, last year she hesitated to
seek treatment for heart problem that no insurance company would
cover."
Following Kain's comments Donvan worried not about the cost
to taxpayers but to the beneficiaries of this latest handout
idea: "Under the President's proposal, people like Ruth Kain
could instead spend roughly $5,000 a year and be covered for
everything. But one important catch, a lot of people can't afford
$5,000."
Donvan did then let Senator Phil Gramm suggest it's not such
a great idea to add recipients to a sinking program, but Donvan
concluded: "But White House aides insist this proposal, while
enlarging Medicare, would not increase its costs. That would be
a rare thing, indeed, for a government program."

Tuesday night CBS refrained from featuring a victim, but not
NBC Nightly News which, like ABC, showcased one.

-- Wednesday night Clinton moved to his favorite topic:
children. And the networks fell in line. Dan Rather announced on
the January 7 CBS Evening News: "President Clinton today proposed
a centerpiece of his policy agenda: federal help for working
parents who need safe and affordable child care...."

Reporter Scott Pelley tied Clinton's childhood to the day's
proposal, though the connection eludes me since Clinton managed
to become President despite suffering through unregulated care
provided by a relative:
"Dan, the President was raised by a single mother who left
him with his grandparents when she went off to school. Today, Mr.
Clinton proposed what may be the largest increase in child care
funding in the nation's history."

Following a Clinton soundbite Pelley explained: "The
President proposes expanding a tax credit for families earning
less than $60,000 a year. Three million families qualify. And
direct payments to those earning less than $30,000. That would
cover one million children, including Terrence Malloy. His mother
spends a quarter of her income on day care. The new plan would
cover almost all of it."
Tanya Malloy, Terrence's mother, got a soundbite before
Pelley moved on to showing another beneficiary of the proposal, a
worker at a company which would get a tax credit for on-site day
care. The only doubt about the plan came in Pelley's conclusion:
"It would all cost more than $21 billion dollars and the
funding is uncertain. One third of the money is supposed to come
from a settlement with tobacco companies, a deal that isn't even
written yet. Dan."

Tom Brokaw framed the issue just as White House wished. He
told January 7 NBC Nightly News viewers: "The dilemma of every
working parent is front and center tonight at the White House,
President Clinton unveiling a multi-billion dollar plan to
provide more and better care for America's children."

Over video of Bill and Hillary walking down a White House
hallway while holding hands with kids, and over a chyron
declaring "Family Friendly," reporter David Bloom began:
"It was a carefully choreographed moment: the President and
First Lady walking hand in hand with children. The White House
convinced that in this election year Republicans will have a hard
time opposing a plan that helps working families better afford
child care."

Just like CBS, NBC ran a Clinton clip and then went to a
victim. After Clinton Bloom explained that half the proposed
spending would go to subsidize child care, thereby "doubling to
two million the number of low income children at places like
Chicago's Christopher House, where Linda Pitts (sp?) might
otherwise not be able to afford child care for nine-year old
Jasmin."

Bloom aired a soundbite from Pitts before falsely asserting:

"$5.2 billion dollars would go to expand the child care tax
credit so that all families, regardless of income, could write-
off up to half of their child care costs..."

Actually, as Pelley correctly reported, you must earn less
than $60,000 to get a bigger tax credit. Leading into a Phil
Gramm soundbite Bloom relayed: "But today many Republicans
blasted the whole idea, arguing that with a balanced budget
finally within reach, a massive new federal spending program is
not the answer."

ABC's World News Tonight also featured the video of the
Clintons and the kids as anchor Peter Jennings offered a brief
item:

"From President Clinton, another proposal for Congress to
consider when it gets back to work. This one to help more working
parents find and pay for child care. The total cost to the
government if Congress agrees: $21 billion dollars...."
Phew. The government will pay for it. I was afraid taxpayers
would have to pick up the tab.

3

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview
of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami dominated CNN Wednesday
night and got picked up by the other networks. CNN devoted the
6pm ET World View on January 7 to the interview and produced an
8pm ET special that repeated at 12am ET.

Here's one of her questions:

"You said that you wanted to use this interview to deliver a
message to the American people. I've lived in America and I
know the concerns of the average American when it comes to Iran.
And it's the message that has come out of Iran over the last 20
years -- the message of hostage taking, the message of death to
America, the message of burning the American flag, the message
that almost looks like Islam has declared a war against America
and the West.
"Let me ask you first about the hostage crisis, which is
emblazoned in every American's mind. As you know, in all
revolutions -- the communist revolution in Russia, the French
Revolution, perhaps even the American revolutions -- the early
years contain many excesses. Would you say that taking the
American hostages at the beginning of the Iranian Islamic
revolution falls into the category of early revolutionary
excesses?"

Just a bit of excess. At least they didn't get too carried
away and write a Declaration of Independence-type document
declaring individual rights against oppressive government.

-- Brent Baker


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