CBS: Clinton Spinsters
Two items today:
1) CBS Evening News
relays Democratic spin on minimum wage and skews analysis of the
Dole/Clinton abortion clash.
2) The May
MediaWatch and MediaNomics are in the mail with studies on the pro-minimum
wage hike slant on network news and on the lack of Whitewater coverage.
Here's Dan Rather opening the May 23 CBS Evening News Thursday night:
"A win for the working poor. The House approves an increase in the
minimum wage." Except for those who will lose their jobs.
Later in the show, CBS aired clips of Bob Dole
and Bill Clinton sparring over partial birth abortion. Rather then turned
to reporters Phil Jones and Rita Braver for "analysis" of the
two camp's views the politics of the clash. This was hardly the worst bias
of the year, but notice which candidate is using "code" words,
which candidate has gone negative and which candidate's remarks were
"very well thought out." It's like 1988 and 1992 all over again.
Phil Jones: "Well this helps Dole energize
all the voters who want to make abortion a major issue in the presidential
campaign, the pro-lifers and the Christian Coalition forces. But it's also
Dole campaign code. When he talks about abortion, that leads to morality.
When he talks about morality, that raises the issue of character. And
that's exactly what Dole and the Republicans want -- to force a
presidential election based on Bill Clinton's character. Rita."
Rita Braver: "Well I think you can mark your
calendar because this was the first day that Bill Clinton really engaged
Bob Dole in full campaign mode. Now the White House had expected the
Republicans to go negative, but not this hard, this fast. And the
President's remarks were very well thought out. He was sending Dole a
message that your remarks are not going to go unchallenged. In addition,
you could see the President's strategy here, and that is to tell Americans
that Bob Dole is dragging the campaign into the mud and trying to divide
The May MediaNomics features a study of minimum wage coverage. Here are
the key findings of the study completed by Tim Lamer of the MRC's Free
"Media Research Center analysts reviewed all
of the minimum wage stories on evening news shows (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC) and
morning news shows (ABC, CBS, NBC) from January through April. There were
36 stories and anchor-reads about the debate. With a few notable
exceptions, the networks took the side of those supporting a minimum wage
increase. For example:
-- Soundbite sources were almost twice as likely
to be supporters of the minimum wage increase than opponents. Out of 60
soundbite sources, 39 supported the minimum wage increase, while only 21
were opposed to it. Several stories contained soundbites from only
Democrats and their allies....
-- The political horse-race aspect of the debate
was emphasized far more than the economics of the debate. There were only
three soundbites from economists. There were 46 soundbites from
politicians. The networks were much more interested in who would win and
lose politically from the debate than what the effect would be on the
-- Journalists were more interested in
interviewing other journalists than in interviewing economists. On the
morning news shows, the obsession with political angles reached almost
comic proportions. On the morning shows, where live interviews are common,
there were five such interviews of journalists about the minimum wage.
There were none with economists.
-- There was more skepticism of Republican
motives than Democratic motives. Three stories suggested that Republicans
opposed raising the minimum wage because their business allies opposed it.
> The May MediaWatch includes
a study titled "McDougal Trial, Senate Hearings Filibuster, and Other
Whitewater News Downplayed: Trial? What Whitewater Trial?"
Here's an excerpt of the study done by Tim
"To determine how much coverage the
Whitewater trial and related stories generated, MediaWatch analysts
reviewed network morning news and evening news programs on ABC, CBS, CNN,
and NBC from February 29, a few days before the trial began, to April 30,
as the trial neared its end. Analysts also reviewed corresponding news
magazine coverage in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report from
issues dated March 4 to May 6. In nearly two months of the trial, the four
networks aired only 15 reporter-based Whitewater stories on the evening
news shows -- an average of less than four per network over a two-month
period. Seven of the 16 (44 percent) were on the President's testimony.
Although Time carried a long cover story excerpting James Stewart's
Whitewater book Blood Sport, the news magazines devoted fewer pages to the
Whitewater trial than to the Jackie Onassis auction.
Some significant stories barely or never made the
air. On February 29 and again on March 7, Senate Democrats blocked votes
extending the tenure of the Senate Whitewater Committee. The Democrats
upheld further hearings until agreeing to a deal on April 18. One Jackie
Judd report on ABC's World News Tonight and an anchor brief on ABC's Good
Morning America and on CNN's The World Today were the only coverage of the
Democratic filibuster until hearings resumed April 24. Jennings introduced
the Judd story by calling it the "endless Whitewater saga."
On March 15, a federal appeals court removed
Judge Henry Woods from the Jim Guy Tucker case and reinstated four fraud
counts struck down by Woods, finding the judge was too close to the
Clintons. Despite several network stories and a Nightline on the integrity
of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, the networks never covered this
On March 24, an ABC News/Washington Post poll
found 52 percent of respondents believed the First Lady was not telling
the truth about Whitewater and 49 percent said they thought she acted
illegally. While the Post published the poll on page A16, ABC never
reported it. When word leaked on April 29 that the FBI found Hillary
Clinton's fingerprints on the long-missing Rose Law Firm documents
discovered in the White House, it drew only four anchor briefs. The most
stunning lack of coverage came from NBC Nightly News, which did not air a
single reporter-based story in two months -- and only two anchor
> Both newsletters should be
arriving in your mail in a day or two.