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CyberAlert -- 09/27/2002 -- Jennings Keeps a Copy of the U.S. Constitution in His Pocket

Jennings Keeps a Copy of the U.S. Constitution in His Pocket; Gore Iraq Hypocrisy & ABC Says He Cast "Deciding Vote"; Public Apathy for Bush Economy Frustrates Journalists; ABC & NBC Showcase Same Poster Guy for Family Leave; NY Times Prods Hate U.S. Comments?

1) "For inspiration," Peter Jennings carries a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his back pocket, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister. But even after living in the U.S. for nearly 40 years, he has yet to become a U.S. citizen and his kids are citizens of three nations, though Shister warned, "Jennings says he's been thinking for more than a decade about becoming an American citizen, 'if the country deems me worthy of it.'"

2) While CBS's Dan Rather highlighted how Al Gore charged that he felt "betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield" in Iraq which left Saddam Hussein in power, FNC's Brit Hume noted how back in 1991 Gore had said the opposite. CNBC's Brian Williams reminded viewers of how Gore was "the number one popular vote-getter in the last election" and ABC's Claire Shipman emphasized how Gore "noted proudly yesterday that he cast the deciding the vote" for the Persian Gulf War. No he didn't.

3) After eight booming years under Bill Clinton poverty is rising and median income is falling, yet the voters just don't seem care -- to the frustration of some in the media. "By almost any of the usual yardsticks," ABC's Betsy Stark rued, "Americans are worse off than they were during the last election...It would seem like enough pocketbook issues to catapult Democrats to sure victory -- until talk of toppling Saddam became an all-consuming front-page issue." CNN offered an incongruous comparison between eight years of Clinton and one year of economic performance under Bush.

4) Over 34 million people live in California, but in promoting the wondrous benefits of the state's new family leave mandate, ABC and NBC managed to showcase the same poster case for the value of the new imposition on business. But while ABC's Judy Muller and NBC's Dan Lothian highlighted the same guy who had to take time off without pay to care for his sick wife, they couldn't agree on his name.

5) A story too good to be true? A New York Times reporter prodded an Arab-American store owner to say he hates America?


1

Canadian-born and raised Peter Jennings, who in a September 6 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, admitted his mother "was pretty anti-American," so he was "raised with anti-Americanism in my blood," told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister this week that he carries in his back pocket a copy of the Constitution, "for inspiration."

But even after living in the U.S. for nearly 40 years, Jennings has yet to become a U.S. citizen and his children are citizens of three nations: Canada, Britain and the United States, though Shister warned, "Jennings says he's been thinking for more than a decade about becoming an American citizen, 'if the country deems me worthy of it.'"


Peter Jennings told David Letterman his mother "was pretty anti-American" so he was "raised with anti-Americanism in my blood."

Is Jennings U.S. citizenship-worthy? He'd be wise to avoid asking his conservative viewers.

An excerpt from Shister's story in the September 25 Philadelphia Inquirer, which was highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews page (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/ ):

....Though he feels "more American than Canadian," ABC's Peter Jennings has never applied for dual citizenship since moving to the United States in 1964.

"There are a lot of complicated reasons, many of them private and having to do with my family," says Jennings, 64, in town yesterday to hype his new book, In Search of America, and to anchor World News Tonight from Independence Mall.

Jennings' mother, Elizabeth (for whom his daughter is named), "was deeply concerned that I stay Canadian," the Toronto-born newsman says. "She thought a lot of people went away from Canada and forgot their roots."

Because Jennings' father, Charles, was a prominent figure in the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., "my mother wanted me to honor that in a pretty permanent way. I don't think that will always be the case."

Jennings says he's been thinking for more than a decade about becoming an American citizen, "if the country deems me worthy of it."

"It would be a very big step for me, because I value the American idea so much. I don't know whether I've made enough of a contribution to America....I wish to be a worthy citizen." (He really talks like that.)

Jennings' children, Elizabeth, 22, and Christopher, 20, are citizens of three countries -- Britain (their place of birth), Canada, and the United States, adopted home of their mother, author Kati Marton, a former WCAU reporter.

If they wanted to, Jennings says, his kids could add a fourth country -- Hungary, Marton's birthplace. (FYI: She was his third wife. He's been married to ABC producer Kayce Freed since 1997.)

Jennings, a highly emotional man to those who know him well, freely admits he's "having a love affair" with America....

Hokey? How's this? Jennings carries in his back pocket a copy of the Constitution, "for inspiration."...

END of Excerpt

For Shister's Wednesday TV column in full: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/magazine/daily/4144068.htm

For more about Jennings on the September 6 Late Show, and a RealPlayer clip of it, refer to the September 9 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020909.asp#6

2

Update on coverage of Al Gore's anti-Bush Iraq policy speech: While CBS's Dan Rather had highlighted how Gore charged that he felt "betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield," in Iraq which left Saddam Hussein in power, FNC's Brit Hume noted how back in 1991 Gore had said the opposite, specifically saying President George H.W. Bush should not be blamed since the "consensus" was only for "pushing Iraq out of Kuwait."

Naturally, Dan Rather did not update his viewers about Gore's hypocrisy.

Plus, while also ignoring Gore's hypocrisy, CNBC's Brian Williams tried to add heft to Gore's remarks by reminding viewers of how they came from "the number one popular vote-getter in the last election," while ABC's Claire Shipman emphasized how Gore "noted proudly yesterday that he cast the deciding the vote" for the Persian Gulf War.

But if a resolution wins by more than one vote, as did this one (52 to 47 on January 12, 1991), then no one vote is "the deciding vote." In fact, ten Democrats supported the resolution and the Washington Post reported on January 13, 1991 that Gore was "the last of the group to announce his position" -- meaning he waited to see which side would win before casting his then definitely non-deciding vote.

And, one more update item, in drafting his speech, Gore consulted with actor Rob Reiner, "Meathead" on All in the Family.

Now the details about what I've just summarized above:

On the September 23 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather trumpeted: "Gore said if other nations follow President Bush's lead in their relations with the world, quote, 'The rule of law will quickly be replaced by the reign of fear,' unquote. Gore has always supported overthrowing Saddam and was among the few Senate Democrats who voted for the 1991 Gulf War resolution. After that war, Gore said he felt betrayed by the first President Bush's, quote, 'hasty withdrawal from the battlefield.'"

The next night, FNC's Brit Hume, in the "Grapevine" segment of FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, recalled how "in his speech in San Francisco yesterday, former Vice President Gore said the first President Bush had ended the 1991 Gulf War too soon." Hume played a clip of Gore: "Back in 1991, I was one of a handful of Democrats in the United States Senate to vote in favor of the resolution endorsing the Persian Gulf War. And I felt betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield."

Hume then informed viewers of Gore's hypocrisy and contradiction: "But this is what Gore said about that back in 1991 on the floor of the Senate, of which he was then a member, quote: 'I want to state this clearly, President Bush should not be blamed for Saddam Hussein's survival to this point. There was throughout the war a clear consensus that the United States should not include the conquest of Iraq among its objectives. On the contrary, it was universally accepted that our objective was to push Iraq out of Kuwait, and it was further understood that when this was accomplished, combat should stop.'"

Nonetheless, an hour later on the September 24 edition of CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed, Williams plugged an upcoming segment with two anti-war Congressmen by bucking up Gore's importance: "In this country, the march toward war has seemed inevitable, but not to the number one popular vote-getter in the last election, Al Gore. The former Vice President and a select few others have started speaking out against the idea, and today it positively ignited some political conservatives."

Earlier that day, on ABC's Good Morning America, Claire Shipman had relayed, without any dubiousness, how Gore said he cast the "deciding vote" in 1991 for the resolution in support of the Persian Gulf War. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed this is how Shipman set up her piece on Gore's speech:
"This was a broad and blunt attack, by far the toughest from any top Democrat to date. And remember, in 1991, Gore was one of the few Senate Democrats to vote for the Gulf War. In fact, he noted proudly yesterday that he cast the deciding the vote, and it's that fact, he says, that now gives him the credibility to criticize Bush on a number of fronts."

Meanwhile, in a September 25 New York Times story, Adam Nagourney reported that Gore consulted a "far-flung" group in drafting his remarks: "He wrote it after consulting a fairly far-flung group of advisers that included Rob Reiner, the actor and filmmaker."

For a picture and rundown of movie and TV appearances made by Gore's foreign affairs adviser, check Reiner's Internet Movie Database page: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Reiner,+Rob

3

After eight fabulous, booming years under the leadership of Bill Clinton the economy is now tanking with poverty rising and median income falling, yet the voters just don't seem care -- to the obvious frustration of some in the media. ABC and CNN this week reflected that media angst with the public as the two networks ran stories devoted to outlining how, as ABC's Betsy Stark put it on Tuesday's World News Tonight, "by almost any of the usual yardsticks, Americans are worse off than they were during the last election."

Add up all the bad numbers and, Stark argued, "it would seem like enough pocketbook issues to catapult Democrats to sure victory -- until talk of toppling Saddam became an all-consuming front-page issue."

But Stark still saw hope ahead, political hope that is for Democrats: "With six weeks to go until election day, the economy could reemerge as the dominant issue, especially if the stock market continues to fall. And remember, just a week before Americans go to the polls, they'll get their third quarter stock performance statements, Peter, which at this rate, would put them in a very sour state of mind."

It will take four weeks for people to get statements about the third quarter which ends on Monday? Stark must own stocks or mutual funds through firms which operate in slow motion.

The next day on Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer recited the same numbers before imploring of Stark: "Now, this would probably cause a crisis, you would think, for the administration, and yet a lot of Americans say they're really not feeling this yet. Will they soon and what will happen?"

CNN's Inside Politics decided to offer the incongruous contrasts between the economic performance over eight years of Clinton and the one year of Bush, a statistically fallacious comparison, especially since it's hard to see how Bush policies had time to have much of an impact in 2001 and obviously something will have time to change more over eight years than one year. Nonetheless, on Tuesday's Inside Politics, Ron Brownstein laid out the comparisons, such as: "During Bill Clinton's eight years as President, the median income rose almost 15 percent, to just over $43,000. But in Bush's first year, the median income fell by more than two percent, to just over $42,000."

On the September 23 World News Tonight, Betsy Stark announced:
"When it comes to the economy, there is not much for voters to feel good about this election season. By almost any of the usual yardsticks, Americans are worse off than they were during the last election. At a cabinet meeting in the White House today, the President tried to put an optimistic spin on the economy."
George W. Bush: "The American people are resilient. They're strong. We've got the best workers in the world. Inflation is down. Interest rates are low."
Stark: "But since he took office in January 2001, the numbers tell a different story. The Dow Jones Industrial average has fallen 27 percent. The nation's 85 million stockholders have lost $5 trillion in wealth. The unemployment rate has risen from 4.2 percent to 5.7 percent. And a $281 billion surplus in the federal budget has given way to a $157 billion deficit. Add to that a siege of corporate scandals and a serious drought afflicting nearly half the country, and it would seem like enough pocketbook issues to catapult Democrats to sure victory -- until talk of toppling Saddam became an all-consuming front-page issue."
Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute: "The economy is the 800-pound gorilla. Only now, we have a 1,000-pound gorilla, it's called regime change in Iraq."
Stark: "The specter of war with Iraq was clearly on the mind of Federal Reserve policymakers meeting today. They voted no change in interest rates. But in a statement, they cited 'the emergence of heightened geopolitical risks' as a threat to the nation's economic health, a threat already responsible for a sharp spike in oil prices and a deep decline in the stock market. With six weeks to go until election day, the economy could reemerge as the dominant issue, especially if the stock market continues to fall. And remember, just a week before Americans go to the polls, they'll get their third quarter stock performance statements, Peter, which at this rate, would put them in a very sour state of mind."

The next day, on the September 25 Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Diane Sawyer recounted the same bad economic numbers: "Let's take a look at some figures since George Bush has been in office -- here's what I want to show everybody at home. Those living in poverty, the number has gone up. The household income of Americans has gone down; right now median income is $42,000. Since President Bush's inauguration -- take a look at this -- the Dow Jones down 34 percent, unemployment up more than a third, and the federal deficit has ballooned from $281 billion surplus to $157 billion deficit. Now, this would probably cause a crisis, you would think, for the administration, and yet a lot of Americans say they're really not feeling this yet. Will they soon and what will happen?"
Betsy Stark answered: "Well, I think one of the keys there is the job market. We've got a weak job market now. People who were laid off haven't been hired back. Companies are just too reluctant to bring people back, not knowing what the outlook is, so that's going to be a key thing. And you know, we've got to worry about what the outlook for employment is going to be because if you have a job, you spend, and if you don't, you back off."

CNN offered its Bush versus Clinton contrast on the September 24 Inside Politics, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed.

Los Angeles Times Washington reporter Ron Brownstein made the case: "As Democrats try to shift the public focus from hard choices abroad to hard times at home, newly-released Census Bureau studies show that, in President Bush's first year, average families lost ground economically, after enjoying big gains through most of the 1990s. The most revealing number is the median income, the amount of money that the average American family earns. During Bill Clinton's eight years as President, the median income rose almost 15 percent, to just over $43,000. But in Bush's first year, the median income fell by more than two percent, to just over $42,000.
"Likewise, during Clinton's tenure, the number of Americans living in poverty fell by almost 7.7 million, the best performance under any President since the 1960s. But in Bush's first year, the number of Americans in poverty jumped by 1.3 million, with the increase concentrated among whites and in the south."

After a clip of Senator Tom Daschle, Brownstein continued: "Democrats blame Bush economic policies for the turnaround. Republicans point to a slowdown that began in Clinton's last year, a downturn that saw family incomes dip slightly even in 2000, according to newly-revised census figures."

So why blame Bush?

Following a soundbite from Bush, Brownstein acknowledged: "Bush can take heart from one precedent: poverty rose and income fell during Clinton's first year also, and then recovered briskly until the very end of his term, helping him to an easy reelection. But another precedent is more ominous for Bush. During his father's presidency, poverty rose sharply and the median income fell steadily. And when the elder Bush faced the voters again, even military victory in Iraq wasn't enough to protect him from the discontent surrounding that bleak bottom line."

But the son hasn't raised taxes.

4

California has over 34 million residents, but in promoting the wondrous benefits of the state's new tax and mandate for family leave, ABC and NBC managed to showcase the same poster case for the value of the new imposition on business. But while ABC's Judy Muller and NBC's Dan Lothian highlighted the same guy, they couldn't agree on his name.

On Monday's World News Tonight, ABC's Muller began with a tale of woe: "Vincent Constantino's wife Lynette recently had spinal surgery and was confined to bed for weeks. He had to take time off from his job as a bus driver to care for her."

The next morning on NBC's Today, Lothian began by heralding: "It's a landmark law Vincent Catino says would've helped his family when he took time off without pay after his wife Lynette underwent emergency surgery."

I have no idea what the guy's real name is, but "Constantino" and "Catino" was how the two reporters pronounced his name. And I know it's the same guy since in both cases his wife's name is Lynette and both networks ran a soundbite from him. When this CyberAlert is posted, the MRC's Mez Djouadi and/or David Bozell will add to it side-by-side pictures of Constantino/Catino as he appeared on the two networks.

Vincent Constantino
"Vincent Constantino" on ABC

Vincent Constantino
"Vincent Catino" on NBC

(For more about ABC's celebration on Monday night of the new law, see the September 24 CyberAlert. Peter Jennings trumpeted: "A groundbreaking plan for family leave. For the first time, fathers as well as mothers will be able to stay home with a newborn baby and be paid for it." Muller lamented how "the United States is one of the few industrialized nations that doesn't offer workers paid family leave. The federal government has enacted unpaid leave, but that doesn't really help families who have no way to pay the bills....Proponents hope the California example will lead the way." Details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020924.asp#3)

NBC was so excited about the new regulatory and tax scheme that they had Lothian produce two stories featuring different people whose plights would be resolved by the new law. One ran on Tuesday's Today, the other on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News during which Lothian heralded California as a trend-setter: "Just the latest policy made in California and bought nationwide....ground-breaking changes leading the way."

And on MSNBC, Ashleigh Banfield championed it: "Great news in California! If you're a brand new mom or dad, you can take some time off with your brand new born and you're gonna still be getting paid for it."

Like the ABC and CBS stories on Monday night, NBC's Dan Lothian focused on the benefits and gave only token time to a detractor. Today news reader Lester Holt set up the September 24 story aired during he 8am update: "California is now the first state with a comprehensive family leave law that lets workers take six weeks off to care for a new baby or sick relative while getting paid."

Lothian began, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "California Governor Gray Davis using his pen and power to help employees in the state take time off from work, with pay."

After a clip of Gray, Lothian stressed the problem the law supposedly solves: "It's a landmark law Vincent Catino says would've helped his family when he took time off without pay after his wife Lynette underwent emergency surgery."
Vincent Catino: "It relieves some of the unnecessary mental stress of having to deal with putting groceries on the table, paying your rent."
Lothian: "The new law allows workers to take up to six weeks off to care for a newborn, newly adopted child or an ill family member. Getting paid 55 percent of their salary for a maximum of $728 a week."
California state senator Sheila Kuehl: "This is such a good plan for the retention of their employees and for a sane workplace."
Lothian got to a detractor: "Even though the program will be funded by employee payroll deductions the L.A. area Chamber of Commerce says it could be costly for business owners, forced to find temporary replacements when a worker takes time off."
Rusty Hammer, L.A. Chamber of Commerce: "We like the idea that California would give employees an opportunity to take family leave and do it in a way that responds to their needs but not on the backs of employers."
Lothian ended, however, by stressing the law's beneficiaries: "But for families in California one less thing to worry about when there's a medical emergency or a proud new birth."

Tuesday night Tom Brokaw referred to "a storm of controversy tonight over an unprecedented new family leave law in California, one that could lay the groundwork for similar changes in dozens of other states," but the subsequent piece from Lothian still gave much more time and emphasis to supporters than critics.

Lothian began with the plight of another person who would have benefitted if the law were in place sooner: "Marisol Quintero's life revolves around her ailing 18-month-old son, battling a rare blood disorder. His frequent hospital visits require her to take time off from work without pay -- an emotional and financial burden."
Quintero: "It was a constant struggle."
Lothian saw the solution at hand: "Now some relief. California's new family leave law giving Quintero and 13 million other eligible workers in the state time off with pay."
Quintero: "I know now that I don't have to make a choice between my son or my job."
Lothian outlined the program: "The law allows six weeks off with partial pay, up to 55 percent of a worker's base salary, to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child, or a sick family member. The money comes from new payroll deductions taken from California workers. California's landmark law is expected to be a national model -- 27 other states are now considering similar measures."
State Senator Sheila Kuehl: "I hope this will give a real impetus for the passage of those bills."
Lothian heralded California as a trend-setter: "Just the latest policy made in California and bought nationwide -- from automobile environmental restrictions to anti-affirmative action laws -- ground-breaking changes leading the way. But this new law signed this week by Governor Gray Davis is finding resistance in the business community. The burden of hiring temporary replacements and offering retraining places more pressure on businesses in an already bad economy."
Rusty Hammer, L.A. Chamber of Commerce: "When will the legislature and the governor understand that we can't continue to have economic growth if we continue to put burdens on business?"
Like he did in the morning, Lothian ended with by stressing how the law will help: "But for workers like Marisol Quintero, a burden lifted, giving her time and peace of mind to help her son heal."

So just who is Marisol Quintero? The September 24 Los Angeles Times revealed that at the signing ceremony with Governor Gray Davis, Quintero "introduced Davis to the crowd." So, not exactly hard for Lothian to find her. That might also explain Constantino/Catino. Advocates of the law probably presented him to reporters as a typical citizen.

A few hours later on Tuesday night, on MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield on Location, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed how Banfield's show played the same Lothian story as had aired NBC Nightly News. Banfield both championed the wonders of the law while also noting how critics think it will be bad for the economy, an even-split in emphasis which was not reflected in Lothian's piece.

On her September 24 show, Banfield plugged: "Coming up, California Governor Gray Davis signs a bill into law, and it is great if you're a new mom and a new dad and looking to get a little time off with your new little kid. But it is lousy if you're a business owner. Why should the businesses have to pay for your time off with your new kids? Find out how it all works and why it's happened, families first."

Introducing the actual story a bit later, Banfield asserted: "Great news in California! If you're a brand new mom or dad, you can take some time off with your brand new born and you're gonna still be getting paid for it. That's not so bad -- unless you're a business owner because it's gonna cost you. A lot of critics of this brand new law in California say with the economy in the toilet, this is not a good time to be passing such a law. In fact, they say it's gonna be a tough act to swallow."

5

A story too good to be true? A New York Times reporter prodded an Arab-American store owner to say he hates America?

In his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com (www.opinionjournal.com/best), James Taranto caught an item in this week's New York Press in a listing of "bests," as in "Best Pickup Joint" and "Best Annoying Form of Transportation." Under the heading of "Best Harassment of an Arab in the Wake of 9/11," the Press related in the unbylined "Manhattan Living" column:
"He's a nice guy who doesn't want any trouble, so we won't name names. But we'll take a polygraph if anybody questions this story's truthfulness:
"It's two weeks after the World Trade Center massacre, and we're visiting our favorite pita place in the former shadows of the WTC. Maybe we're gullible enough to think that we're showing support for a local Arab-American. We ask if he's had any kind of harassment.
"'There was this one woman,' he explained, 'who came in from The New York Times. She kept telling me that she understood if I hated America. I finally told her not to come back until she wanted to write about my business.'"

That's online at: http://www.nypress.com/15/39/news&columns/manliving.cfm

Taranto suggested: "The story sounds too good to be true."

Yes, but I'm afraid it also sounds all too much like the attitude of a journalist trying to get an interviewee to say something quotable. -- Brent Baker


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