On Tuesday's CBS
Evening News before the OJ verdict broke, Rita Braver concluded a piece,
on what Clinton would say to Congress in a few hours, by noting that
"he'll recycle a line from his Inaugural asking Americans to join him
in becoming repairers of the breach."
Picking up of
Braver's language, Dan Rather then intoned: "Well one breach that
apparently needs repairing already tonight involves the man chosen by
Republicans to give their official response to the President's address,
Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma. At issue, not what he's going to say,
but what he's already said about one of Newt Gingrich's invited guests
tonight. Bob Schieffer is tracking this controversy in Washington,
"Well Dan a real sour note was struck in the Republican effort to
reach out to black voters today. As you know, Speaker Gingrich had invited
civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to sit with Ms. Gingrich tonight to hear
the President's speech. Gingrich had also chosen a black Oklahoma
Republican, J.C. Watts, to deliver the official Republican response to the
President's speech. But Watts has stirred up a furor when he was quoted in
the Washington Post today speaking of 'his contempt for 'race hustling
poverty pimps' like Jesse Jackson and Marion Barry, whose careers depend
on keeping black people dependent on government.'"
that Watts' office said he was not referring to anyone specifically and
noting that Jesse Jackson was so upset he considered not attending,
son, Jesse Jr., who is a Congressman from Illinois was so outraged he sent
a letter to Watts tonight calling his remarks 'uncivil,' 'immature,'
'ignorant.' and 'insensitive.' And he called for a public correction. This
is clearly not what the Republicans planned when they started all of this,
Back on November
20, black Democratic Congressman William Clay disparaged outgoing
Republican Congressman Gary Franks, who is also black, as a "Negro
Dr. Kevorkian." The November 21 Washington Times quoted from a
six-page letter Clay circulated on Capitol Hill critical of Franks'
conservative views. Clay described Franks as "a pariah, who gleefully
assists in suicidal conduct to destroy his own race."
Coverage on the
CBS Evening News of this scathing personal attack? Not "sour"
enough to get reported.
2. While on the
topic of uncivil and insensitive language, a just reported racial
discrimination lawsuit reminded me an attack a few years ago on Newt
Gingrich. NPR's Cairo bureau chief has filed $2 million lawsuit claiming
racial discrimination. Sunni Khalid, the February 1 Washington Times
reported, "charged that he was often refused basic support for
overseas work, such as translators, hazardous-duty pay and language
training, for which white reporters are routinely compensated."
Journalists' Roundtable on October 14, 1994 Khalid asserted:
there's a big difference when people told Father Aristide to sort of
moderate his views, they were concerned about people being dragged through
the streets, killed and necklaced. I don't think that is what Newt
Gingrich has in mind. I think he's looking at a more scientific, a more
civil way of lynching people."
Washington Post provides a case study of media bias through labeling.
Reading the February 4 Post MediaWatch Associate Editor Tim Graham
observed how reporters were quick to tag conservatives but seemed
oblivious to the ideas that anyone they quoted could be considered
liberal. Here are the examples Tim forwarded to me:
-- On page one,
reporter Thomas Lippman relayed that Sen. Jesse Helms "served notice
yesterday that he will hold an international treaty banning chemical
weapons hostage to his own foreign policy agenda....Supporters of the
treaty said Helms has created the first big test of Lott's leadership,
arguing that he should use his clout to win ratification of the agreement
rather than letting Helms and his conservative allies control the
agenda." Despite the fact that Lippman later insisted that
"Helms, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and other Senate conservatives have
serious reservations about it," including "inadequate guarantees
of Russian compliance," Lippman failed to label anyone who backed the
Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as "liberal."
-- A story on
page A4 reported that the American Bar Association, "the nation's
largest and most influential organization of lawyers," voted to ask a
halt to the use of the death penalty. The Post never tagged the ABA's
policy-making committee or any members "liberal."
-- Also on page
A4, an AP story reported how federal investigators are looking into Rep.
Bud Shuster's (R-Pa.) role in aiding two campaign contributors involved in
a dispute over a Boston highway project. The advocates for taxpayer-funded
campaigns quoted in the story, the Center for Responsive Politics, and the
Congressional Accountability Project, were not described as
"liberal." Instead they were "a campaign finance research
group" and "a Ralph Nader-affiliated group."
-- Another page
A4 piece carried this headline: "Conservative Group Seeks Access to
White House and DNC Data." Post reporter Toni Locy's lead: "A
federal judge is considering whether to allow a conservative watchdog
group to subpoena records from the White House and the Democratic National
Committee regarding trade missions sponsored by the Commerce Department
when the late Ronald H. Brown was Secretary."
-- On page A6 the
Post headline announced: "Archbishop Kindles Outrage in Gay
Community: San Francisco Activists View Stand on Spousal Benefits as
Beginning of Conservative Tide." Reporter Peter S. Goodman began:
When Archbishop William J. Levada arrived in San Francisco two years ago,
many within this city's vast gay community saw it as an ominous sign.
Levada was a rising and ambitious figure within the conservative ranks of
the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The man he was replacing, John Quinn, had
been hailed as a voice of moderation, a barrier against the increasingly
traditionalist winds of the Vatican. This irreverent city braced for a
noted Levada's controversial stand was to treat AIDS patients without
being forced by the city government to have the Church recognize same-sex
marriages, and added: "Back when Levada was named archbishop and the
talk turned to his alleged conservatism, Herb Caen, the legendary San
Francisco Chronicle columnist who died last week, wrote that he heard an
observer remark 'In San Francisco, a conservative cleric is one who wears
flats instead of heels.'" The "activists" mentioned in the
story were never labeled "liberal."
If you can't find
a liberal in San Francisco where can you find one?