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CyberAlert -- 09/17/2002 -- Cronkite Wants to Set the News "Agenda"

Cronkite Wants to Set the News "Agenda"; Star Jones Effuses Over Gore; Hillary a "Moderate" or "Keeper of the Liberal Flame"?; NY Times Baffled How "Hard-Line" Domenici Has Compassion; MSNBC Tune-Out; Gumbel to Be Replaced With a Liberal?

1) Walter Cronkite last week said he would "like to be in the newsroom helping set the agenda" for CBS News. What kind of agenda would Cronkite advance? Back in 1997 he proclaimed: "I don't believe the public has rejected liberalism; it simply has not heard a candidate persuasively advocate its humane and deeply democratic principles." In 1988, before denouncing Reagan's policies, Cronkite declared: "I know liberalism isn't dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice."

2) On ABC's The View, former NBC News reporter Star Jones revealed her enthusiasm for a second presidential run by Al Gore in 2004.
Jones, who was a legal affairs reporter on Today and the NBC Nightly News in the early 1990s, effused about how "I'd love for the country to get to see Vice President Gore" because "I found inspiration listening to him talk."

3) "Hillary Clinton Emerges as Moderate" declared the headline over a July 28 Associated Press story, but in this week's U.S. News, "Washington Whispers" compiler Paul Bedard related how "Clinton is fast becoming known in the Senate Democratic caucus as the keeper of the liberal flame. Insiders say she often forcefully defends left-leaning positions when others talk of compromise."

4) Conservatism contradicts compassion? The New York Times described Senator Pete Domenici as a "hard-line conservative" in plugging a profile which assumed a conflict between conservatism and caring: "Pete Domenici is a social and fiscal conservative. So how did he become the Senate's leading advocate for the mentally ill?"

5) MSNBC, "America's News Channel"? While ratings for CNN and FNC nearly doubled during the day and evening on September 11th, MSNBC's audience grew only slightly during the day and actually fell in prime time as people tuned away from Donahue, Hardball and Banfield. As the New York Times noted in a Friday story, MSNBC attracted "only 277,000 viewers" in prime time, "below the average this year" of 347,000 viewers.

6) Back on September 11th, just after the Pentagon ceremony with President Bush, ABC's Terry Moran denigrated Bush's tax cut as "a tax cut that was, frankly, cooked up during the heat of a political campaign." As compared to what other policy ever proposed during a campaign?

7) Will CBS replace Bryant Gumbel with someone just as liberal? It looks like that could happen. Bill Carter reported in Monday's New York Times that CBS is "negotiating with" Harry Smith to co-host The Early Show.


>>> Now online, the September 16 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. The issue is online at:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2002/nq20020916.asp
To access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version in blue:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2002/pdf/Sep162002nq.pdf <<<

1

Walter Cronkite would "like to be in the newsroom helping set the agenda" of CBS News, he told an interviewer when he was in San Diego last week to address an AARP convention.

And just what kind of agenda would Cronkite advance? Well, back in 1997 he proclaimed: "I don't believe the public has rejected liberalism; it simply has not heard a candidate persuasively advocate its humane and deeply democratic
principles." Nine years earlier, before denouncing Reagan's policies, Cronkite declared: "I know liberalism isn't dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice."

The DrudgeReport ( www.drudgereport.com ) highlighted a brief AP story from September 13 about Cronkite's remarks. An excerpt of the unbylined AP dispatch about Cronkite, who retired in 1981 from anchoring the CBS Evening News:

....A longing to return to work is with him "always, every day," the 85-year-old Cronkite said. But it hits him especially hard during major news events such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"When the big story is breaking, you want to be there," he said. "I knew that was going to happen, I just didn't know it was going to happen over so many years."

Cronkite, who now works on documentaries with his son's company, Cronkite Productions, addressed the annual convention of retiree-advocacy group AARP on Thursday....

"I would have stayed quite a bit longer...knowing what I know now, that I would still have plenty of years to grow up with the kids," he said in an interview.

"Not being on the air, that's not important. But I'd like to be in the newsroom helping set the agenda."...

END of Excerpt

For the AP item in full: CLICK HERE

A look at the MRC archives offers some insights into the very liberal world view and hostility to conservatives that Cronkite would have advanced over the year:

-- Cronkite in his 1997 book, A Reporter's Life: "[Mario] Cuomo was a rare combination: an intellectual and a spellbinding orator. I would have bet that he could have won the Democratic nomination and been elected to the presidency. He had electrified the 1984 Democratic convention with his keynote speech, and I never saw him fail to excite those who shared his liberal vision of America's future. Despite the pollsters and political operators' contrary opinions, I remain convinced that the public was ready for a leader who could restore that vision after the selfish eighties. I don't believe the public has rejected liberalism; it simply has not heard a candidate persuasively advocate its humane and deeply democratic principles."

-- Cronkite at a November, 1988 banquet of the liberal People for the American Way, as quoted in the December 5, 1988 Newsweek:
"I know liberalism isn't dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice....We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that 'Star Wars' means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the real threat to democracy is the half of the nation in poverty. We know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child....Gawd Almighty, we've got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like that scene in the movie 'Network,' we've got to throw open our windows and shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we'll find more windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we'd ever dreamed possible."

Even without Cronkite in the CBS newsroom, it seems to me that on many nights the CBS Evening News promotes Cronkite's liberal causes.

2

A former network news reporter on Monday declared her affection for a liberal politician, Al Gore, to be specific. On ABC's daytime The View, the show created by Barbara Walters, former NBC News reporter Star Jones, one of the show's regular hosts, revealed her enthusiasm for a second presidential run by Al Gore in 2004.

Jones, who was a legal affairs reporter on Today and the NBC Nightly News in the early 1990s, effused about how "I'd love for the country to get to see Vice President Gore" because "I found inspiration listening to him talk."

On the September 16 The View, Joy Behar noted that "Hillary wants to run," which prompted the audience to applaud, leading Behar to note that "people like her." Jones blurted out: "That's wonderful."

Referring to speculation that Gore might run again in 2004, Jones then contended: "I'd love for the country to get to see Vice President Gore -- the one that I knew. Because I got to tell you, I found inspiration listening to him talk. I really did."

For a picture and bio of Jones:
http://abc.abcnews.go.com/theview/hosts/jones.html

For Jones' own Web page: http://www.starjones.com/default.asp

3

"Hillary Clinton Emerges as Moderate" declared the headline over a July 28 Associated Press story, but in this week's U.S. News & World Report, "Washington Whispers" compiler Paul Bedard related how "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is fast becoming known in the Senate Democratic caucus as the keeper of the liberal flame. Insiders say she often forcefully defends left-leaning positions when others talk of compromise."

That's the entirety of the item in the September 23 issue, which Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce highlighted on Monday. For the U.S. News "Washington Whispers":
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/whispers/whisphome.htm

For Pierce's daily compilation of political items:
http://www.washtimes.com/national/inpolitics.htm

What Bedard picked up on contradicts the theme of the earlier AP dispatch, as summarized in the July 30 CyberAlert:
"Hillary Clinton Emerges as Moderate" declared the headline over a July 28 AP report. Reporter Shannon McCaffrey argued that Clinton has "belied" predictions that she would be "a liberal's liberal." McCaffrey's evidence: Clinton was scheduled to deliver "the keynote address at a Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York" and the organization is a "centrist group." McCaffrey contended: "Clinton has cast herself as a New Democrat on some key issues." But McCaffrey contradicted herself as she reported that "Clinton now receives high marks from liberal groups." For more:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020730.asp#3

4

When you think of "hard-line conservative" Senators does the name Pete Domenici come to mind? It does to the New York Times, which used that term to describe the New Mexico Senator on the cover of Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The Times asked on the cover of the September 15 edition: "What Made a Hard-Line Conservative Into a Mental-Health Crusader?"

The Times assumed such a conservative man couldn't possibly be concerned about the misfortunate. Under the headline for the profile of Domenici, "When Politics in Personal," the Times again suggested a conflict between conservatism and caring: "Pete Domenici is a social and fiscal conservative. So how did he become the Senate's leading advocate for the mentally ill?"

A photo caption explained what made the "hard-line conservative" so reasonable: "After schizophrenia hit home, Pete Domenici became an unexpected champion for the mentally ill. He has had to balance his daughter Clare's privacy against the public good."

The profile is online at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/15/magazine/15DOMENIT.html

Just how much of a "hard-line conservative" is Domenici? He's earned a fairly moderate conservative 73 percent career rating from the American Conservative Union. For his ACU numbers:
http://www.acuratings.com/acu_doc.cgi?ACT=3&STATE=NM&YEAR=2001

5

What if you owned a cable news network and on the biggest news day of the year fewer people tuned in? That's the conundrum facing NBC with its little-watched MSNBC cable channel.

While ratings for CNN and FNC nearly doubled during the day and evening on September 11th, with FNC coming out on top, MSNBC's audience grew only slightly during the day and actually fell in prime time as people tuned away from Donahue, Hardball and On Location with Ashleigh Banfield. As the New York Times noted in a Friday story brought to my attention by the MRC's Liz Swasey, MSNBC attracted "only 277,000 viewers" in prime time, "below the average this year for MSNBC in prime time, 347,000 viewers."

Of course, millions more watched the four broadcast networks during prime time than any of the three all news cable channels.

An excerpt from Bill Carter's September 13 story on ratings for the September 11 commemorations:

....[E]ven after nonstop coverage on multiple channels all day, the biggest television event of the anniversary coverage was the replay by CBS of the documentary film about one company of New York firefighters and their escape from the first World Trade Center tower just before it collapsed. The film, "9/11," attracted just over 12 million viewers, making it the most watched individual program broadcast on Wednesday.

Far more viewers saw the film than watched the network's 8 p.m. program, "60 Minutes II," which featured an exclusive interview with President Bush. That program averaged about 9.8 million viewers. For that hour a news special about the events of 9/11 on ABC drew more viewers, 10.8 million. NBC's "Dateline" program attracted just under 9 million viewers at that hour.

On the cable news networks, coverage generated almost twice as many viewers as on a normal day. CNN averaged about 922,000 viewers for its day of coverage, up from its average of about 520,000 viewers for the year so far. Fox News averaged just over 1 million viewers, up from its average this year of about 630,000 viewers....

The one news channel that did not benefit much was MSNBC, which gained only slightly over its average for the year so far. MSNBC had about 316,000 viewers on Wednesday; it has been averaging 259,000.

Part of the reason may have been that NBC News was showing 9/11 commemorative events as well. But in prime time, when NBC shifted to a special concert, MSNBC's talk programs fared worse than usual, pulling in only 277,000 viewers, below the average this year for MSNBC in prime time, 347,000 viewers....

END of Excerpt

For the Times story in full:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/13/national/13RATI.html

In a New York Post story on Friday, Don Kaplan added some prime time numbers for CNN and FNC:
"On cable, Fox News Channel drew the most viewers, averaging over 1 million viewers during the day and about 1.8 million viewers in prime time. CNN averaged about 922,000 viewers during the day and 1.4 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC averaged about 316,000 viewers during the day and 277,000 viewers in prime time."

It seems few Americans agree that MSNBC is "America's News Channel."

6

Speaking of September 11th coverage, the MRC's Rich Noyes reminded me that just after the Pentagon ceremony with President Bush on Wednesday morning, ABC's Terry Moran denigrated Bush's tax cut as "a tax cut that was, frankly, cooked up during the heat of a political campaign."

What campaign promise isn't "cooked up" during the campaign in order to attract support?

During the live ABC News coverage, Peter Jennings asked Moran at the White House to explain if Bush had changed since the terrorist attacks: "Terry, any number of people who, have observed in the last few days the many different opinions as to whether or not this last year and the event a year ago today has changed George W. Bush significantly. You've been there for the year, any thoughts?"

Moran replied: "Well, Peter, that is a question frequently asked. My own sense following him day after day is that he, himself, hasn't changed that much. But his presidency has been utterly transformed. It has a purpose that it, frankly, lacked going into September 11th. There was a kind of vague ambition to do good, a tax cut that was, frankly, cooked up during the heat of a political campaign. And a slogan, 'compassionate conservatism.' Covering President Bush prior to September 11th, one was struck on occasion that he didn't seem entirely engaged in his duties. That's just one reporter's observation. You never get that sense now. There is a focus and an intensity and a mission. There's no question about it. And for the team, for the administration, it is impossible to overestimate the impact of September 11th. It forged a bond of unity and wartime comradeship among the highest echelons of this administration that has disciplined them and lessened the degree of bureaucratic infighting that you usually see in Washington. And made them a much more effective team."

One thing that hasn't changed with the Washington press corps: They don't like tax cuts.

7

Will CBS replace Bryant Gumbel with someone just as liberal? It looks like that could happen.

CBS announced on Monday that Early Show co-host Jane Clayson will be gone by the end of the month, moving to weekend anchoring fill-in and contributor of "Eye on America" pieces for the CBS Evening News. Speculation for her successor is focusing on Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville, who briefly co-hosted NBC's Today back in the 1991-92 range, and Hannah Storm of NBC Sports, who once toiled at CNN.

As for the male co-hosting slot, Bill Carter reported in the September 16 New York Times: "Executives with knowledge of CBS's planning said the network was negotiating with Harry Smith, who is yet another name from past morning-show wars. Mr. Smith was the co-host of an earlier version of the CBS morning show from 1987 to 1996."

Just before he did a week of filling-in on the Early Show, the July 29 CyberAlert recalled some of his liberal pontificating from his CBS This Morning days:

Smith repeatedly condemned the 1980s as "the decade of greed" while scolding how "we continue to dirty our planet like there was no tomorrow." Reviewing President Bush's 1990 State of the Union Address, Smith lamented: "The President was remarkably upbeat for a man who runs a country with a monstrous national debt, huge balance of trade problems, a crumbling infrastructure, dirty air, countless homeless people..."

With Newt Gingrich, he denigrated the Contract with America: "But the real deal here if we're talking about Reaganomics, which this seems to be harkening back to, tax cuts for the rich and everything else...You're talking back to the days when budget deficits ran out of control."

After asking Gingrich one morning whether the elderly should be "afraid" of him, he slobbered another morning all over Mario Cuomo, referring to "the sense of the promise that you may have been able to deliver to people, your eloquence, your intelligence."

He blasted the "gun lobby": "While our children are being gunned down by thugs and criminals, we continue to allow ourselves to be bullied by a gun lobby which refuses to budge on issues which make simple common sense."

In 1996, toward the end of his This Morning tenure, he gushed about the "completely free, good quality, state-run pre-school" offered in France, but earlier he had found less to like about the U.S. as he charged: "America turns thousands of innocent black children into cast-offs. It's one of the accomplishments of America's system of apartheid."

He did sometimes criticize liberals, but from the left. After moving on to a reporting slot for the CBS Evening News in mid-1996, he looked at the supposed victims of welfare reform. He concluded a story which focused on poor women in Chicago: "Their long faith in the Democratic Party has been shaken, and the actions of President Clinton confirm their fear that the poor just do not count."

END Excerpt from previous CyberAlert

For more about those quotes and a lot more examples: CLICK HERE

Smith filled in again last week and couldn't restrain himself from adding a liberal twist to a question. MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught this question on September 13 from Smith to Senator Joe Biden: "Madeleine Albright in the New York Times this morning says the timing is all wrong on this. The more important war that we have to fight is against terrorism and with al-Qaeda. Is Saddam Hussein suddenly the target because we can't find Osama bin Laden?"

Is Harry Smith suddenly CBS's hope to save The Early Show because no one else is willing to take the job? -- Brent Baker


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