2. Brokaw: Bush is President "Representing Corporate Interests"
3. Dr. Ted J. Smith III, Leading News Media Scholar, Passes Away
Back in mid-December, the CBS Evening News twice led with stories about "war-profiteering" by Halliburton for the price of gas it sold inside Iraq, with Vice President Cheney's name linked prominently. One night, over a full screen graphic of Cheney's head next to video of Halliburton trucks and employees, CBS's Dan Rather asserted: "Tonight, did politically-connected Halliburton gouge U.S. taxpayers with war profits?" Rather proceeded to charge that "Pentagon auditors have found evidence of possible price-gouging and unusual war profiteering by the Halliburton company..." CNN's NewsNight that night emblazoned "War Profiteering?" on-screen over a full story.
But three weeks later, when a January 6 front page Wall Street Journal story revealed that the Army Corps of Engineers had cleared Halliburton of any wrongdoing in its pricing, the CBS Evening News, which had earlier touted a concern of "Pentagon auditors," ignored the development. Yet Tuesday's CBS newscast had time for full stories, totaling nearly seven minutes, on Princess Diana, plastic garbage swirling in a portion of the Pacific Ocean and how, as anchor John Roberts put it, the Howard Dean campaign "offers America new love."
That was a two-minute plus piece by Richard Schlesinger on how young people are using Dean's "meet-ups" as an opportunity to find a mate. Roberts segued to it from an item on former Senator Bill Bradley's endorsement of Dean: "Bradley said the Dean campaign quote, 'offers America new hope.' The Dean campaign also, apparently, offers America new love as CBS's Richard Schlesinger reports."
Schlesinger showcased a female Dean supporter at a Dean "meet-up" at a bar in Brooklyn who is looking for a boyfriend and a couple who met at a Dean event and then dated for two months. Schlesinger ended the piece by noting how the first woman is still looking, asking her: "You haven't met Mr. Right?" Her rejoinder: "Or Mr. Left!"
Over on CNN's NewsNight last night, the show which had in December emblazoned "War Profiteering?" on screen for two minutes, put "Halliburton Cleared" on screen for ten seconds as Brown noted: "The Army decided today that Halliburton was not gouging on gasoline in Iraq. The ruling from the Army Corps of Engineers puts the blame for the overcharge on the Kuwaiti government."
But that's ten seconds more than CBS allocated.
The headline over the January 6 Wall Street Journal front page story: "Army Corps Clears Halliburton In Flap Over Fuel Pricing in Iraq."
An excerpt from the story by Washington bureau reporter Neil King Jr.:
The head of the Army Corps of Engineers quietly exonerated Halliburton Co. of any wrongdoing in a Kuwait fuel-delivery contract that Pentagon auditors asserted has overcharged the U.S. government by more than $100 million.
In a previously undisclosed Dec. 19 ruling, the commander of the Corps, Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, cleared Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary of the need to provide "any cost and pricing data" pertaining to a no-bid contract to deliver millions of gallons of gasoline from Kuwait to Iraq.
He acted after lower-level Army Corps officials concluded in a memo to him that Kellogg Brown & Root had provided enough data to show it had purchased the fuel and its delivery to Iraq at a "fair and reasonable price."
The decision, which Halliburton itself requested, came after Halliburton's pricing of gasoline sold to the U.S. government exploded into public controversy last month when Defense Department auditors alleged that Kellogg Brown & Root, known as KBR, was significantly overcharging. While the auditors never accused the company of profiteering, when news of the audit broke, President Bush said that if Halliburton had overcharged for the fuel, he expected the company to repay the money.
The ruling could undermine the continuing Pentagon audit of the company's fuel-delivery contract. Still, it will keep the fuel flowing in Iraq.
Defense auditors had alleged in a Dec. 5 draft audit that KBR had picked a Kuwaiti supplier that was charging for gasoline almost twice the price asked by other suppliers in the region....
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: webreprints.djreprints.com
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume on Tuesday night, Fortune magazine's Jeff Birnbaum explained during the panel segment how Halliburton was locked into a contract with a Kuwaiti company which charged a comparatively high price for gasoline and that Halliburton did not profit from the higher price at which it sold the gas inside Iraq. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard suggested the Department of Defense-arranged deal was a way of rewarding Kuwait for its help before the war.
Birnbaum concluded: "I think this has been widely over-hyped in the press."
But that's not how CBS approached the story on December 10, as summarized in the December 11 CyberAlert: Dan Rather managed to work "Halliburton" and "war-profiteering" into his introduction of his lead story: "President Bush has decided to punish some major countries by excluding them from the rebuilding of Iraq. American companies with contracts in Iraq, especially those like Halliburton with close ties to the administration, are being paid handsomely. Some critics are saying Halliburton is unfairly war-profiteering. But countries that wouldn't join the President's coalition of the willing to oust Saddam Hussein are now saying, 'unfair,' about being denied a share of the big money reconstruction pie." For more, see: www.mediaresearch.org
Appearing on Comedy Central's Daily Show on Tuesday night, NBC's Tom Brokaw said that he believes President Bush is so much more successful at fundraising than Howard Dean because Bush is a Republican President "representing corporate interests" and, therefore, "he can go out there, push the button and get a lot of money."
During the January 6 segment, host Jon Stewart wondered how much Dean really has transformed politics through the Internet given that Bush has raised $150 million through conventional means while Dean has brought in just $30 million. Stewart prompted Brokaw: "So are we making a mountain out of a molehill?"
After some joking back and forth about the phone number for the White House, Brokaw answered: "I talked to somebody at the White House today and we talked about the fact that the Dean success with the Internet, and they're beginning, they're not having the same kind of success but they're using that as a tool as well. And no, it cannot equate with the fundraising power of a President of the United States who is a Republican, especially representing the corporate interests. He can go out there, push the button and get a lot of money."
Sounds simple enough. But it must be a lot of buttons to push given the hundreds of thousands each giving $2,000 or less.
Sadly, news arrived at the MRC on Monday, that Dr. Ted J. Smith III, an associate professor of mass communication at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, who has served faithfully as a judge every year since 1991 for the MRC's annual year-end "Best of" Notable Quotables awards issues, passed away on Sunday from a heart attack at the age 58. He had been battling cancer.
VCU's School of Mass Communication posted this notice on Tuesday:
Mass Comm loses a friend and colleague
Associate Professor Ted Smith, a treasured member of the School's faculty since 1987, died of a heart attack Sunday. He was 58.
Dr. Smith, who also served as the School's director of graduate studies in 1990-92, had been battling cancer for about a year but still maintained a rigorous schedule of teaching and scholarship.
Visitation for Dr. Smith will be Thursday, Jan. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bliley's Funeral Home, 3801 Augusta Ave. The funeral will be Friday at 2 p.m. at St. Alban's Anglican Church, Hermitage Road. Interment will be at Hollywood Cemetery.
Contributions can be made to:
The Dr. Ted J. Smith III Memorial Fund
Dr. Smith taught several undergraduate courses, including Communications Law, Public Relations Research, Ethical Problems in Mass Communications, Introduction to Public Relations and Introduction to Mass Communications. At the graduate level, he also taught Research Methods, Media-Government Relations and Media Analysis.
"When people think of Ted, they think of someone who believed passionately in what he taught then shared that passion with his students," said Dr. Judy VanSlyke Turk, director of VCU's School of Mass Communications.
"He was a favorite among the students, and he really helped the students learn."
Turk said Dr. Smith also was known as a warm and giving colleague who mentored several faculty members successfully and was a valuable component of the School's decision-making process.
"Many of his colleagues will remember his voice from the corner of the room bringing to a discussion a perspective that no one else would have thought of," said Turk.
"We were always lucky to have him chime in on our discussions, because it helped the faculty enrich our decision-making, and his views prodded us to think and raise our perspectives."
Before coming to VCU, Dr. Smith was an assistant professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Rhetoric and Communication Studies at the University of Virginia. He also taught at the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education in Australia and at the State University of New York at Albany.
Dr. Smith received his bachelor's degree (with high honors), his master's degree and his Ph.D., all in communication, from Michigan State University. He also served in the U.S. Air Force.
A prolific scholar, Dr. Smith was the author or editor of eight books and more than 100 articles, chapters, research papers and reviews. He also served as an expert commentator for a wide variety of news media in the United States and Great Britain.
Dr. Smith engaged in numerous professional activities. He was an adjunct scholar for the Heritage Foundation, a member of the advisory council for the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, a senior research fellow for the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a member of the advisory board of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, a director of the National Association of Scholars and a co-founder of the Statistical Assessment Service.
In 1998, he was general coordinator for the Richard M. Weaver Symposium on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ideas Have Consequences.
Dr. Smith is survived by his wife, Rosemary. They had been married 33 years.
END of Reprint
The online version features a photo of Smith as we remember him: www.has.vcu.edu
Today's (Wednesday) Richmond Times-Dispatch carries an obituary for Smith: www.legacy.com
ECONOMY SOARS, COVERAGE DIVES. "As the economy progressively improved," from 1982 to 1987, "the amount of economic coverage on national network television news progressively declined" and "grew more negative in tone," Professor Ted J. Smith III determined in a recent study for the Media Institute titled The Vanishing Economy. The Assistant Professor for Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University reviewed 13,915 ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News stories on the economy aired during three one year periods: July 1 to June 30, 1982-83, 1984-85 and 1986-87.
The ratio of negative to positive stories grew as economic indicators improved, from 4.9 to 1 in 1982-83 to 7.0 to 1 in 1986-87. When an economic indicator grew better, the networks began covering it less so they could focus more on unhealthy economic signs. For instance, as the unemployment rate fell from 10.6 percent to well under 6 percent by 1987, the number of stories on employment plunged by 79 percent while reports on the growing trade deficit soared 65 percent and on the homeless jumped by 167 percent.
Finding a political spin, Smith noted that "unlike economic problems, which were often attributed directly to Reagan Administration policies, economic gains" were seldom credited to Reagan. Instead, "they just happened."
END of Excerpt
The July-August 2002 American Enterprise magazine carried an illuminating article by Smith, "Public sees media bias." Go to this page a scroll down a bit: www.theamericanenterprise.org
For those who knew him, a Web address and phone numbers for the visiting hours and funeral: There will be visitation at the Bliley Funeral Home, 3801 Augusta Avenue, Richmond, 23230 on Thursday, January 8 from 5 to 8pm. Web site for the funeral home: www.blileyfuneralhomes.com. Phone: 355-3800.
The funeral will be held in Saint Alban's Pro-Cathedral, 4006 Hermitage Road, Richmond, 23227 at 2 pm, Friday, January 9. Phone: 262-6100.
We will miss seeing him this March at the MRC's Dishonors dinner and will forever miss his judgments and counsel about media analysis.
-- Brent Baker