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MRC Research Director Rich Noyes on Fox Business Network at 5:55 p.m. ET

CyberAlert -- 06/17/2002 -- Estate Tax Repeal Effort Unpatriotic

Estate Tax Repeal Effort Unpatriotic; Salivating for Enron-Bush Scandal; FNC's Burns Scolded CNN's Brown; Reagan Bombing of Libya Condemned; MSNBC's No Conservative Prime Time

1) Margaret Carlson condemned Karl Rove for pushing to repeal the estate tax: "What will fathers say to the age-old question now: 'What did you do during the war daddy? Fight to destroy al Qaeda and avenge the deaths of three thousand U.S. citizens? Or wage war to protect America's luckiest and wealthiest?'"

2) What's most upsetting to Newsweek's Martha Brant about the Arthur Andersen prosecution? It's "distracting" the press corps from the scandal of how Bush policy is intertwined with Enron.

3) FNC media-watcher Eric Burns scolded CNN's Aaron Brown for leading his show one day last week by telling his viewers what personally does not interest him in regards to the Jose Padilla arrest. On Fox Newswatch, Burns suggested that Brown "uses the first person singular pronoun the way carpenters use nails. Always 'I,' 'I', 'I.'" Former Los Angeles Times reporter Jane Hall helpfully recommended to Brown that the next time he wants to express his own view that he employ the phrase "Democrats say."

4) Biased blast from the past, one that's especially enlightening in the wake of 9/11: ABC News reporter Kenneth Walker castigated President Reagan for breaking "international law" when he bombed Libya in 1986. Walker argued on the McLaughlin Group that "under this rationale, the Nicaraguans are...justified in attacking the CIA in Virginia."

5) Today MSNBC launches a 12 to 2pm EDT conservative/liberal show with WABC Radio's Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby. Starting next month, Pat Buchanan and Bill Press will occupy the 2 to 4pm EDT hours, but MSNBC's prime time will be all liberals: Phil Donahue, Chris Matthews and Ashleigh Banfield. Ratings numbers show FNC's cable news dominance and why Alan Keyes was dumped by MSNBC.


1

Margaret Carlson's "Outrage of the Week" on CNN's Capital Gang: Top White House aide Karl Rove's effort to repeal the onerous estate tax which can take over half of a person's inheritance.

On the CNN show on Saturday, the Time magazine Washington bureau columnist and reporter impugned Rove's cause as unworthy in a time of war:
"Karl Rove declared war on the estate tax this week. You know, the tax only one-half of one percent of Americans pay? Falsely cloaking themselves in concern for family businesses already protected, the Bush administration refused all compromise, like raising the already generous exemption to $7 million. What will fathers say to the age-old question now: 'What did you do during the war daddy? Fight to destroy al Qaeda and avenge the deaths of three thousand U.S. citizens? Or wage war to protect America's luckiest and wealthiest?' War as a metaphor when we're at war is not a good idea."

Note how in Carlson's world the wealthiest are the "luckiest" and not the hardest working or most ingenious.

Let's hope Carlson shows some consistency and condemns anyone who presses to create a new entitlement program, like prescription drug coverage under Medicare, which will burden generations of taxpayers of all but the lowest incomes.

2

Salivating for a chance to intertwine Bush administration policy with Enron. Even though Bush officials did nothing to help Enron as it went down, the Washington press corps won't let go of what it thinks should be a scandal.

Reacting on Inside Washington over the weekend to the prosecution of Arthur Andersen, Newsweek Washington reporter Martha Brant was upset by how the trial was "distracting" the media from the Bush-Enron link:
"I think it's interesting that this is distracting us further from Enron and we haven't been talking about it much and the Bush administration's been able to dodge around this while we still have the General Accounting [Office] suit coming, trying to release information about how the ties were with Enron and the energy policy task force. So I'm interested to see how this all comes back around."

I'm sure she'll do what she can to make sure it "comes back around."

3

FNC media-watcher Eric Burns scolded CNN's Aaron Brown for leading his show one day last week by telling his viewers what personally does not interest him in regards to the Jose Padilla arrest. On FNC's Fox Newswatch, Burns referred to Brown's "egomania" and suggested that Brown "uses the first person singular pronoun the way carpenters use nails. Always 'I,' 'I', 'I.'"

Panelist Jane Hall, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, helpfully recommended to Brown that next time he wants to express his own view that he employ the phrase "Democrats say."

On the June 15 Fox Newswatch, host Burns recounted how Brown opened the June 10 NewsNight on CNN by emphasizing, before reporting the story itself, how he was not "interested in seeing a bunch of terrorists running around the country blowing up buildings and killing lots of people while they are out on bail. But I'm also not especially interested in seeing the government deny citizens their most basic protection against governmental abuse."

For a complete rundown of Brown's priorities, see the June 11 CyberAlert:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020611.asp#1

For how Brown the next night defended how he opened the June 10 NewsNight, by claiming he was just "asking questions," go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020614.asp#2

On FNC's Newswatch, Hall, now a journalism professor at American University, asserted: "To me, I watched the Aaron Brown thing, and I thought: 'I don't care what you're interested in.' I'm old-fashioned enough to say, if you're going to raise skepticism, say, you know, 'Democrats were saying they question the timing,' not 'I'm not interested in hearing about a lot of arrests.' I thought it was way off base."

Burns referred to Brown's "egomania" before proclaiming: "I'm not interested in what Aaron Brown is not interested in and I wonder if this is some kind of new trend in anchoring. This guy, Aaron Brown, and I really don't like to be personal, but there's a real principle here. He uses the first person singular pronoun the way carpenters use nails. Always 'I,' 'I', 'I.'"

Instead of "this is CNN," maybe CNN could have Brown announce a new ID tag: "I am CNN."

4

Biased blast from the past, one that's especially enlightening in the wake of 9/11: In 1986 ABC News White House correspondent Kenneth Walker castigated President Reagan for breaking "international law" when he bombed Libya. Walker argued that "under this rationale, the Nicaraguans are fully entitled to cross into Honduras. Indeed, they're justified in attacking the CIA in Virginia."

The remark was broadcast again over the weekend on the McLaughlin Group as the show marks its 20 anniversary with looks back at past shows. This past weekend, the program showed an excerpt from April of 1986 on the U.S. bombing of military targets in Libya in response to the terrorist bombing of a night club in Berlin which killed an American.

On the 1986 show, McLaughlin wondered whether the long term consequence of Reagan's retaliation would be positive or negative. Walker, then ABC's number two White House correspondent, contended:
"I think negative, John. I think it does violence to diplomatic and legal institutions in the world and in this country. It can't be much doubt that we were trying to take Khadafi out there. That's against international law. We were trying to overthrow a government. That's against international law. We justify, by this policy, under this rationale, the Nicaraguans are fully entitled to cross into Honduras. Indeed, they're justified in attacking the CIA in Virginia."

Though Walker left ABC News just as the MRC was created, it wasn't the only time that we caught Walker, who covered the White House for ABC News from 1986 to 1988, displaying race-based hostility toward Reagan or Bush. From a "Newsbite" in the January 1990 MediaWatch:

The invasion of Panama proved "the only people the United States are going to be prepared to use its military against are non-white: peoples of the Third World," charged former ABC News reporter Kenneth Walker on the December 24 [1989] McLaughlin Group. The number two man at the White House during Reagan's years also saw racism in Bush's actions toward China and Romania: "The only way you can explain the difference in the reaction is race. This man places more importance on white lives than non-white lives."

Walker didn't hesitate to suggest Reagan's policies were responsible for the recent wave of mail bombings in the South. "When President Reagan opens his campaign for President in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the birth place of the Ku Klux Klan where Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney were killed, it seems to me that, along with his refusal to meet any recognized black leadership throughout his eight years in the White House, sent a signal out there that everything is up for grabs."

End Reprint of MediaWatch item

In the fall of 1990 Walker became the Senior Producer of Jesse Jackson's short-lived weekly syndicated TV show.

I haven't heard of Walker since.

[Web Update: Walker is now the Africa Bureau Chief for National Public Radio.]

5

With MSNBC today launching a new noon to 2pm EDT show in the first schedule change leading up to the complete revamping on July 15 of the third place cable news channel's schedule, I thought I'd take the opportunity to relay head-to-head cable news ratings numbers for all three cable news channels.

Starting today at noon MSNBC mimics FNC in moving toward a talk format. Ironically, MSNBC was created in 1986 by the transformation of an all-talk cable channel called America's Talking. And America's Talking was run by Roger Ailes, who is now Chairman of....the Fox News Channel.

As of noon today, for two hours MSNBC will feature the morning hosts from WABC Radio in New York City: Former Guardian Angel founder Curtis Sliwa and liberal lawyer Ron Kuby.

On July 15, the 2 to 4pm EDT slot will be assumed by another right/left spilt show hosted by CNN Crossfire veterans Pat Buchanan and Bill Press.

That night MSNBC will debut a new prime time line-up sans Alan Keyes, who as you will see below, attracted very few viewers, and without Brian Williams, who also got beaten badly. As of July 15, The News with Brian Williams will air only on CNBC and Hardball only on MSNBC. The new line-up:

-- 7pm EDT: A new show hosted by Jerry Nachman, a former Editor of the New York Post who also recently put in a stint as Executive Producer of ABC's Politically Incorrect. A few months ago MSNBC brought Nachman aboard as its number two guy under MSNBC President Erik Sorenson.

-- 8pm EDT: Phil Donahue's new show featuring Jeff Cohen, the former Executive Director of the far-left Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, in his new career path as professional pundit.

-- 9pm EDT: Hardball with Chris Matthews, which will then no longer be shown on CNBC.

-- 10pm: Ashleigh Banfield: On Location moves an hour later from its present 9pm EDT.

I believe the 8, 9 and 10pm EDT shows will all repeat three hours later so they can be advertised as running at the same times on both coasts.

No word on what MSNBC will air between 4 and 7pm EDT, but I would assume Dan Abrams will continue with his 6pm EDT show. Alan Keyes could also pop up in the late afternoon, but published reports have cast doubt on that possibility.

In making his announcement last week about the Sliwa/Kuby and Buchanan/Press shows, Sorenson proclaimed, as quoted by Lisa de Moraes in the June 13 Washington Post, that the hires demonstrate MSNBC's "determination to be the cable news network that is fiercely independent as well as balanced in our news analysis, encouraging both conservative and liberal perspectives."

But where is the conservative in MSNBC's 8-11pm ET/PT prime time line-up of Phil Donahue, Chris Matthews and Ashleigh Banfield?

Matthews may sometimes be contrarian, but the former aide to liberal House Speaker Tip O'Neill is no conservative. Just last week, for instance, on the June 10 Imus in the Morning, he tagged Vice President Cheney as "far right," noting: "I don't like him so much politically."

As FNC's successful conservative hosts demonstrate, conservatives can attract viewers, so Keyes did not fail because he's conservative but because he's not very good on TV -- just too "hot" for television.

Now, for your edification about what people are watching, some ratings numbers which demonstrate the dominance of the Fox News Channel.

Thanks to a story in the June 3 Electronic Media by Michelle Greppi, some Neilsen numbers from several dayparts for May:

-- Total day: "Fox [FNC] averaged 594,000 viewers (up 153 percent year to year), followed by CNN with 480,000 viewers (up 87 percent), MSNBC with 232,000 (up 13 percent) and CNN Headline News with 187,000 (up 18 percent)."

-- Prime time: "Fox [FNC] averaged 1.02 million viewers (up 101 percent year to year), followed by CNN with 814,000 (up 61 percent), MSNBC with 305,000 (up 9 percent) and CNN Headline News with 202,000 (up 31 percent)." Greppi added: "Fox also won the demographics race, finishing first among the key news demo of persons 25 to 54 and among persons 18 to 34 and persons 18 to 49. However, CNN claimed the biggest percentage growth among viewers 18 to 34."

(I'd assume, but do not know for sure, that the prime time numbers add up all the matching time zone viewership so that, for instance, The O'Reilly Factor number counts all time zones at 8pm EDT as well as 8pm PDT.)

-- Top five cable news shows: "Fox claimed four of the top five cable news shows for the fifth consecutive month, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Ranked No. 1 was Fox's The O'Reilly Factor (1.77 million viewers), followed by CNN's Larry King Live (1.26 million) and Fox's Hannity & Colmes (1.12 million), The Fox Report with Shepard Smith (1.08 million) and Special Report With Brit Hume (999,000 viewers)."

Over 10,000 subscribe to CyberAlert, so if just one in ten of us would start watching Hume's show we could get him to an even million.

(To put all of this is some perspective, the lowest-rated broadcast network evening news show, the CBS Evening News, attracts about 8 million viewers.)

-- Mornings:
FNC's Fox & Friends: 711,000 viewers
CNN's American Morning with Paula Zahn: 449,000 viewers

(Again, to put this in perspective, the lowest-rated broadcast network morning show, CBS's The Early Show, is watched by 2.7 million. NBC's Today, by over 6 million and ABC's Good Morning America by about 5 million.)

-- 8pm EDT:
FNC's The O'Reilly Factor: 1.77 million viewers
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams: 322,000

(Nothing in Greppi's piece or elsewhere about CNN's Live From... at 8pm)

-- 9pm EDT:
CNN's Larry King Live: 1.26 million
FNC's Hannity & Colmes: 1.12 million

-- 10pm EDT:
FNC's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren: 762,000 viewers. (That's "up 68 percent compared with The Edge with Paula Zahn the year before.")
CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown: 713,000 viewers. (That's "up 71 percent compared with Spin Room the year before.")
CNBC's running of The News with Brian Williams: 313,000
MSNBC's Alan Keyes is Making Sense: 235,000 viewers. (Which explains why he'll soon be off MSNBC.)

(Both the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Daily News last week related slightly higher viewership numbers for 10pm EDT in May:
FNC's On the Record: 773,000 viewers
CNN's NewsNight: 720,000
MSNBC's Making Sense with Alan Keyes: 258,000

(The difference can probably be explained by different Neilsen definitions of "viewer.")

Now some time slot numbers for May passed along last week by the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes:

-- 12 to 2pm EDT and 2 to 4pm EDT: "MSNBC averaged a measly 247,000 viewers from noon to 2pm, while Fox News Channel averaged nearly 630,000 and CNN nearly 700,000. From 2 to 4 p.m. it was pretty much the same story, though FNC had a slight edge over CNN."

-- 7pm EDT:
FNC's Fox Report with Shepard Smith: 1.1 million viewers
CNN's Crossfire: 560,000
MSNBC's Hardball: 370,000 viewers, making it "MSNBC's most watched program."

By comparison to MSNBC's 370,000 as its best, Keyes isn't doing that badly with 258,000.

MSNBC, I mean "America's News Channel" that most Americans who watch cable news don't watch, has now where to go but up. -- Brent Baker


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