night the broadcast networks and CNN's World Today all led with
multiple stories on Iraq and all included pieces on the FBI's
determination that the TWA crash was not caused by an outside act as
well as stories on the Nichols trial. ABC and CBS briefly noted that,
as Dan Rather put it, Bill Lann Lee was "put in a kind of
confirmation limbo" by the Senate Judiciary Committee as
Democrats managed to block a vote on his nomination to be Assistant
Attorney General for civil rights.
The World Today carried a full story on the appearance of Maggie
Williams before the House investigating committee, the broadcast
networks skipped the testimony from the First Lady's chief-of-staff
about Johnny Chung's donation delivered at the White House. This means
that World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News viewers have yet to hear
a word about any of the House hearings held since early October. ABC,
CBS and NBC did find time, however, for some other less than pressing
developments in the world. Here are some notes on the November 13
World News Tonight ran a full story on an FDA panel's analysis of
a new drug which slows hair loss in men. Anchor Peter Jennings ignored
the House hearing but did find time to note that the House approved
production of a new dollar coin. A "Cutting Edge" segment
looked at how computer chips can be used to make life easier, such as
having a chip in milk cartons to tell you when you need to buy more,
and the show ended with a story on North Dakota farmers giving away
cattle to those who lost their animals in the blizzard or flood.
Evening News. The Eye on America segment looked at Gothenberg,
Nebraska a town where it is illegal for teens to possess tobacco. So
the police set up surveillance on teens and if seen smoking, the teens
are fined $56. The show also featured its usual "El Nino
Watch." Dan Rather alerted viewers that El Nino has cut into the
birth rate of Pacific Sea Turtles living on the coast of Nicaragua.
Then he announced: "Tomorrow, a new El Nino weather forecast for
the nation -- it will be out here on CBS. It's a forecast for the
coming winter. Some regions of the country, it turns out, may get a
lot more snow than previously thought. CBS will have the details for
you tomorrow on our Friday El Nino Watch."
Is this the
CBS Evening News or the Action News at 11 Guaranteed Five Day
Nightly News. First up after Iraq: the danger airplane of
collisions on runways. NBC ended with two stories related to an
11-year-old Minnesota boy with epilepsy. First, efforts to treat his
condition. Second, a whole story on how dogs, such as the one owned by
the boy's family, was taught to recognize and warn of impending
World Today. About 20 minutes into the November 13 show CNN re-ran
a story by Brooks Jackson carried earlier on Inside Politics. Jackson
Chung's story has been told and retold -- of a hustling businessman
who gave $366,000 to the Democrats and got into the White House nearly
50 times; once to see the president with six Chinese associates. House
Republicans say it's a story of a Democratic White House for sale, but
their star witness told a different version. Hillary Rodham Clinton's
former chief of staff painted Chung as a socially clumsy outsider with
an almost schoolboy crush on the First Lady..."
After a bite
from Williams, he picked up: "She said her staff found Chung an
irritating nuisance and made fun of his halting English..."
Isn't this just the kind of cultural insensitivity that got Senator
Sam Brownback in trouble back in July? Then, ABC devoted a whole story
to his inflection.
noted how "Democrats documented that Chung got political access
to Republicans, too."
investigation goes forward and Clinton and Gore interviewed by the FBI
about their calls. ABC briefly mentioned the calls Wednesday night,
but CBS and NBC skipped both developments.
In one minute
and 15 seconds, near the end of the November 12 Prime News, CNN anchor
Joie Chen rattled off updates on four political items. First, that the
Justice Department staff had recommended to the Attorney General that
the probe of Bruce Babbitt move to "the next step." Second,
that former Democratic Congresswoman Lindy Boggs had been sworn in as
U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican (with video of daughter Cokie of ABC
News by her side as Gore did the honors). Third, news that Paula Jones
had been deposed on Wednesday by Clinton attorneys in Little Rock.
Fourth, how Clinton and Gore and been interviewed for a couple of
hours each earlier in the day by the FBI about their fundraising
calls. (CNN replaced Wednesday's 10pm ET World Today with an Iraq
The last item
took Chen 15 seconds. ABC gave it three more. Peter Jennings took 18
seconds to read this as the next to last story on Wednesday's World
News Tonight: "The White House announced today that both
President Clinton and Vice President Gore were questioned yesterday by
investigators looking into campaign fundraising violations. Attorneys
for both men said only that they answered all the questions before
them. Attorney General Janet Reno has until December the second to
decide whether to appoint and independent counsel."
18 seconds more than allocated by the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly
News, MRC analysts Steve Kaminski and Geoffrey Dickens informed me.
Both ignored the FBI interviews as well as the Babbitt news. ABC also
skipped Babbitt, but unlike CBS and NBC, did pick up on Jones. MRC
analyst Gene Eliasen observed that ABC used the Jones interviewing as
an introduction to a rather disparaging look at her supporters and
"In Little Rock, Arkansas, today an important stage in the sexual
harassment case against President Clinton. Paula Corbin Jones faced a
round of questioning from the President's lawyers on her claim that
she was sexually harassed by Mr. Clinton in 1991. The President's
defense is being handled by a major Washington attorney, Bob Bennett,
been in the news a lot. ABC's Jackie Judd reports tonight on the
people providing the most support for Paula Jones."
recall ABC ever airing a story on the controversial clients who have
retained Bennett's law firm, but ABC's story made sure viewers learned
how Jones is backed by conservatives and highlighted the most
controversial stands they have taken.
transcribed by MRC intern Karen Sajines, Judd asserted:
"Paula Jones arrived in Little Rock for her first face to face
session with the President's lawyers flanked by her representatives
and backed by organizations associated with conservative causes. On
Jones' left, Donovan Campbell, a Texas lawyer known for his defense of
the state's sodomy law describing homosexuality as a mental disorder.
The Rutherford Institute in Virginia has signed on to finance the
lawsuit. It's known for defending religious rights activists and
abortion protestors. It recently mailed sixty thousand fundraising
letters appealing for money, quote, 'to keep fighting for the
of an ad, Judd noted: "And commercials inviting women to call a
toll free number if they've been victimized by Mr. Clinton...And then
there is Jones spokeswoman, some say her svengali, self described
conservative feminist, Susan Carpenter Macmillan. Is this about
getting Bill Clinton?"
Macmillan denied the charge. Judd continued:
"The President's supporters see some value in Jones being backed
by conservative activists. They say it proves that this is not about
sexual harassment but about politics and damaging Mr. Clinton. Doris
Kearns Goodwin is a presidential historian."
that all this will backfire on conservatives before Judd concluded:
"But Jones' team is charging ahead, judging by who they're
depositing. Next up on Friday is Jennifer Flowers. The woman who
claims that she had a long term affair with the President. Jackie
Judd, ABC News, Little Rock."
Judd used the
term "conservative" three times in under a minute and a
half. When's the last time ABC ever uttered the word
"liberal" with such frequency?
morning shows all ignored the FBI interviews, Babbitt, Jones and
failed to preview the House hearing. But, ABC's Good Morning America
found time to interview Dominick Dunne about his OJ novel and NBC's
Today devoted the 7:30 half hour to Katie Couric's interview with Marv
Thursday the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP) released a special
report, The Forgotten Five: Important Economic Facts Missing in the
News. Here's the cover page for the report with a brief summary of the
five fallacies frequently forwarded by foolish reporters:
the National Council on Economic Education, 79 percent of Americans
get their information about the economy from television. When the
network news shows fail to provide context in economic stories or
simply leave basic economic facts out of their reports, most Americans
remain uninformed. Timothy Lamer, Director of the MRC's Free Market
Project, identified five important economic facts that network
reporters routinely ignore:
wealthiest Americans pay most of the federal income taxes.*
often repeat claims that tax reform will mainly help the wealthiest
in society, without providing context -- specifically that the top
one percent of earners pay 29 percent of all income taxes, and the
top 10 percent of earners pay 59 percent of all income taxes.
*Government can harm the environment; free enterprise can help it.*
seem to have a set formula when it comes to environmental stories:
The free market is always bad and government is always good. In
fact, some federal programs encourage environmental destruction and
some entrepreneurs preserve the environment.
*Domestic social spending continues to soar.*
reporters claim that the recent budget deal between the White House
and Congress imposes fiscal discipline on Washington. In fact,
domestic social spending has increased more under the GOP Congresses
than it did under Democrats, and will continue to do so.
*Social Security, as currently structured, will bankrupt future
stories about the federal budget assume that Social Security
problems can be ignored without causing serious economic problems in
the near future. But some economists estimate that the payroll tax
will have to double to keep the system solvent into the next
*Government health care mandates increase the number of uninsured
reporters often call the number of Americans who lack health
insurance a "crisis," they rarely look into its causes.
One recent study concludes that government-mandated benefits raise
the cost of insurance as much as 30 percent, causing many employers
to drop coverage.
To read the
report, with examples of media bias on each topic and the real facts
that reporters often skip on each, go to the MRC's home page where MRC
Web manager Joe Alfonsi has a link to it displayed up at the top. Or,
go directly to: