CyberAlert -- 06/18/1996 -- More Filegate; People Don't Appreciate Media

More Filegate; People Don't Appreciate Media

Four items today:

1) Networks cover the Hillary/Republican Senate report story, but ignore revelations in FBI file saga. Dan Rather portrays Hillary Clinton as the victim of the "Republican Whitewater offensive" which has "targeted" her.

2) 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace calls White House "palpably dishonest" and says media underplayed FBI file story.

3) A Washington bureau chief says the public and talk show hosts think the media are biased because "there is a great lack of appreciation of what we do, what our role is in a democracy" and "rather ham-handed notions of what our role is and how we actually function."

4) Think you have it tough? Check out this reaction to Jeff Jacoby's Boston Globe column on liberal bias.


An update on FBI file coverage. Sunday's Washington Post reported that "Secret Service officials have told Senate Republicans that their system of tracking White House pass-holders is not capable of producing an out of date list." As I noted yesterday, none of the broadcast network evening shows mentioned the FBI file story Sunday night. Neither did CNN's The World Today.
Monday's New York Post reported that the Meadeville (Pa) Tribune in Anthony Marceca's hometown reported "he said he frequently spoke with Mrs. Clinton." A Washington Post editorial Monday reported that Marceca and Craig Livingstone "both worked as advance men for Gary Hart and vice presidential candidate Al Gore." The Post also cited a March 13, 1994 interview with Marceca in the Meadeville paper in which Marceca said "he had worked in the campaigns of Edmund Muskie and George McGovern."
Monday night network coverage: ABC's World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News did stories on the Senate Republican report on Hillary Clinton. But only NBC mentioned the files -- Brokaw asked Brian Williams about the news that those who handled FBI files were not low level people as the White House claimed.
Dan Rather portrayed Hillary Clinton as the victim of mean Republicans. He open the June 17 CBS Evening News: "First Lady Hillary Clinton targeted by leaks in the Republican Whitewater offensive. Her lawyer fires back while she responds to new questions."
Then, later at end of Russian election news segment: "The Whitewater offensive against Hillary Clinton and her response. And, what may be more racially motivated arson in the South. Those stories, straight ahead, from Paula Zahn in New York."


Yesterday's e-mail included a quote from Howard Kurtz conceding the media were slow on the uptake on the FBI files story. Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame agrees. The June 17 Talk Daily quoted from his appearance on the Don Imus Show on Friday:
Mike Wallace: "I cannot believe that there wasn't more [coverage], [that] they didn't level on him worse than they did; [that] we didn't level the Clinton administration worse than we did....When you get 341's so palpably dishonest what they [the White House] did."


Last Friday, June 14, on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Brian Lamb asked Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren about Newt Gingrich's charge of media bias. MRC intern Diane Lewis transcribed the exchange. Lamb read from a Washington Times interview with Gingrich: "'I think if you start with the notion that there is no President in modern times more systematically protected by the elite media and no White House press corps which has more avoided holding the President accountable. I mean you see about how often this President says things that are either factually not true or clearly misleading, and everybody seems to stand around. I mean if Reagan had tried it, they would have devoured him.'"
Lamb then asked: "Day after day, we get calls here from people who bash the liberal media. Day after day, you hear talk show hosts around the country doing the same thing. Here's the Speaker of the House doing it. How long can you withstand this constant assault that the media is biased?"
James Warren: "You probably, you can't, whether or not it's factually correct or not. My view is there is a great lack of appreciation of what we do, what our role is in a democracy, but there's no doubt that our image, our reputation, probably is somewhere down there with used car dealers and politicians and lawyers. I think a great deal of it is based on, I think, on rather ham-handed notions of what our role is and how we actually function. In the case of Gingrich, how quickly we forget, I think there was probably nobody, and I think even many C-SPAN viewers would have to agree, there really was nobody, in this town, who upon becoming Speaker, had received as much solicitous, even fawning, coverage as the Speaker. Now, that changed over the course of the last year. But I would think that if a lot of reporters in this town, who crave access and crave to be close to the powerful, would look back on their clips, they might be downright embarrassed back at some of the coverage of Gingrich in the early months of 1995 after he took over as Speaker."


Think you have troubles -- in Boston the liberals have a Stalinist edge. Last Tuesday the Globe's token conservative columnist, Jeff Jacoby, wrote a piece on liberal bias in which he cited the Freedom Forum poll showing 61 percent of reporters call themselves liberal, just nine percent conservative. Here's one of three letters trashing him the Globe printed the next day:
"I don't often agree with Jeff Jacoby, but his June 11 op-ed column, 'The media's heavy-handed liberal tilt,' is right on the money. I agree with Jacoby that editors and producers should do something about the 9 percent of conservatives among the media people. They should do everything in their power to reduce this to 0 percent."
Norman Newlands, Lexington.

Now I know why I left Boston.

-- Brent Baker