NBC: Conservative Bias and FNC Undermining Trust in the Media --6/6/2003
2. NBC Uses Military Families to Distort Tax Cut for Non-Taxpayers
3. CBS's Storm Dreams of HRC Jumping into 2004 Presidential Race
4. Previews Suggest Very Empathetic Look at Hillary by Walters
5. Walters Calls HRC "a Very Good Senator," Predicts Re-Election
6. "Sean Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," Getting a "Taste" of Baghdad
7. "Top Ten Surprises in the Walters-Hillary Clinton Interview"
In the wake of the resignations of the top two editors at the New York Times, NBC News looked at declining trust in the media overall and identified two culprits: Conservative, pro-corporate bias and the Fox News Channel.
In a NBC Nightly News piece on Thursday night, reporter Jim Avila noted that "media watchdogs complain almost daily of bias, charging that some stories are deliberately ignored." His sole soundbite for that point: a representative of the far-left group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, who charged that public cynicism toward the press is fueled by "the whole corporate climate, where people feel they're being sold to rather than informed."
Then, over video of the Fox News Channel, Avila blamed it too: "And some experts say opinion-based journalism, so popular on cable TV, undercuts credibility."
As opposed to the opinion-based journalism of NBC News and the rest of the news media, as if there were no bias in the media until FNC came along a few years ago.
The June 5 NBC Nightly News led with a story by Andrea Mitchell about the resignations of Times Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd and then Tom Brokaw went to Avila in Chicago for a look at how the public views the media.
Avila began with a Spokane artist who sees routine mistakes in stories about him and then Avila recalled how "a 2002 Pew Research study shows that only 35 percent of the public trust news organizations to 'get the facts straight.'"
Next, Avila gave a soundbite to a man in restaurant who doesn't believe all he reads in newspapers and Avila confirmed he has "plenty of reasons" to think that way. Avila reminded viewers of NBC's own Dateline NBC simulated truck explosion controversy, the case of Janet Cooke at the Washington Post in 1981, Stephen Glass at the New Republic who "imagined" stories in 1998 "and Mike Barnicle's factual carelessness for the Boston Globe."
Avila didn't mention that NBC has helped rehabilitate the ethically-challenged Barnicle by making him a fill-in host and regular commentator on MSNBC.
Avila asserted: "Jayson Blair is just the latest example of journalistic fraud chipping away at an industry built on trust. How bad is it? Denver's Rocky Mountain News, a subscriber to the New York Times News Service, no longer automatically runs stories based on Times's unnamed sources."
While on the subject of the New York Times, three resources for evidence of the liberal bias and agenda of Howell Raines before and during his tenure as top editor of the New York Times:
-- The MRC's "Spotlight" section on Raines put together last year by the MRC's Tim Jones. You'll be able to watch video of Raines praising the wonders of Bill Clinton and complaining that "the Reagan years oppressed me." See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- "Raines of Error: Howell's 21-Month Times Editorialship," an article written by TimesWatch.org Editor Clay Waters. See: www.timeswatch.org
-- A listing of a couple of dozen articles about Raines posted over the last few years by TimesWatch.org and the MRC. See: www.timeswatch.org
More income tax "cuts" for people who don't pay any income tax. Playing off sympathy for low-paid military members, on Thursday's NBC Nightly News Norah O'Donnell delivered a particularly distorted look at the tax situation for those in the military, with kids under age 18, who earn less than about $27,000 a year.
O'Donnell highlighted a military wife who "learned her family was not included in the child tax credit because they don't make enough money." The woman complained: "I can't explain it, doesn't make sense to me, but it's pretty sad."
She's probably confused because she relies on the news media for her information and sees stories like O'Donnell's which obscure basic facts.
And, in fact, the woman will continue to receive a $600 per child credit even if it exceeds her income tax payments, she just won't get and even bigger payment.
O'Donnell cited a report from the liberal Children's Defense Fund as her authority in claiming that "about one million children in military families will not benefit from the new child tax credit because they make less than $27,000 a year." Repeating the mis-reporting from last week, O'Donnell proceeded to assert that "nearly 12 million American children [were] denied the child tax credit when Congress and the White House eliminated low-income families to keep the total cost of the bill at $350 billion."
She concluded with by worrying that "there's still plenty of wrangling to be done before a final bill passes Congress" so that, she ludicrously insisted, "potentially leaves many military families facing a summer without tax relief."
How can you expect "tax relief" from an income tax cut bill when you not only don't pay any net income taxes, in most cases you already get more back from the government via the already-existing child credit and EITC, than you put in?
At least CBS's Sharyl Attkisson realized the reality. In a CBS Evening News story she reported on efforts to extend the child credit both to those who don't pay income taxes as well as to raise the top income level that would qualify. Attkisson explained how the $10 billion more would be divided: "$5 billion to low-income families who pay no federal income taxes. They could get a cash payment of up to $1,000 per child. There's also something for Republicans: $5 billion more in tax relief for higher income married couples with children." That would move the top level from $105,000 to $150,000.
ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas was just as distorted as NBC's O'Donnell, but kept her incomplete item short on Thursday's World News Tonight: "The Senate passed new tax cuts today to benefit families left out of the President's relief package. They include child credits for families earning between $10,000 and $26,000 a year who got nothing under the recent plan. The cuts must still be approved by the House."
They may have gotten "nothing," but they put nothing in.
Tom Brokaw assumed there was something wrong with the initial bill as he plugged the upcoming June 5 NBC Nightly News story: "Up next, a solution in the works for millions of the families cut out of the recent tax cut."
Brokaw set up the subsequent piece without any hint that he was talking about non-income tax payers: "And on Capitol Hill tonight, the Senate passed a compromise bill that will fix what had been viewed by many as a mistake in the new tax cut law. It dropped families making minimum wages from eligibility for an expanded child tax credit. One of the big reason's for the fix: The big number of American military families included in that category."
Norah O'Donnell profiled Jennifer Darling, the wife of a lance corporal, who is overwhelmed by a new baby, "struggling to make ends meet." Her husband makes about $20,000 a year.
O'Donnell asserted: "When President Bush signed the tax cut into law last week Darling learned her family was not included in the child tax credit because they don't make enough money."
There may be a good argument for raising military pay, but NBC distorted the issue by not pointing out how many of those in the military with kids already live income tax free, so not giving them a cut in taxes they don't pay is not some kind of terrible injustice.
"ONE MILLION MILITARY CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND BY MASSIVE NEW TAX PACKAGE: Tax Cuts Abandon Military Families While Handing Millionaires Billions," screamed the headline over the Children's Defense Fund press release O'Donnell found so newsworthy. It's online at: www.childrensdefense.org
But a Joint Economic Committee press release this week reported, based on Treasury figures: "The new tax bill provides the largest percentage reductions in the income taxes of low and middle income groups, and as a result, the share of total income taxes paid by upper income groups under the new tax law will increase, Vice Chairman Jim Saxton said today."
The release elaborated: "For example, taxpayers with incomes between $30,000 and $40,000 will have their income taxes reduced by 19.3 percent under the new tax bill. As a result, their share of the total income taxes paid will go from 2.1 percent under previous law to 1.9 percent under the tax relief bill. On the other hand, taxpayers with incomes over $200,000 will have their income taxes pared by 10.8 percent, and their share of the income tax burden will rise slightly from 44.8 percent to 45.4 percent."
For the entire release: www.house.gov
Don't count on seeing that perspective anytime soon on NBC News.
On day two, some media figures decided, after a day of ridiculously effusing over how "candid" Hillary Clinton is in her new book, in describing how she didn't learn until he told her eight months after everyone else figured it out that her husband had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, morning hosts on NBC and FNC expressed some doubts, but CBS and ABC remained in the tank for her. (See item #4 for details about ABC and Barbara Walters).
On Thursday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Lester Holt challenged former Hillary Clinton Press Secretary Lisa Caputo about Hillary's tale about being in the dark: "A lot of folks have [a] hard time believing that, that would be the first time she would know, given the evidence, the dress, the, the tape-recordings and the phone calls."
(Starting on Monday, Today will have a three-part interview with Hillary Clinton conducted by Katie Couric.)
Over on FNC's Fox & Friends, MRC analyst Patrick Gregory observed, E.D. Hill opined on the June 5 show:
For a photo and bio of E.D. Hill for those unfamiliar with the FNC program: www.foxnews.com
But CBS's Hannah Storm remained in awe of Senator Clinton, gushing on Thursday's Early Show about how "she's got this very straight forward language. Do you think this will resonate or ring true with women voters?" Instead of questioning her honesty, CNN-veteran Storm championed the popularity on Amazon of Hillary's book and proposed greater things for her: "If she generates this goodwill and this enormous wave of popularity is it possible we could see her jump into the presidential race earlier than expected, maybe even in 2004?"
MRC analyst Brian Boyd took down Storm's largely fawning question on the June 5 Early Show to Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly:
-- "Craig, what's everybody talking about inside the Beltway? Do they see this as a heart felt confessional by a spurned woman or do they see this as a publicity campaign?"
-- "Well, when she ran for Senate she did not address the Monica Lewinsky scandal at all. She invoked that zone of privacy. So why now, of course eight million reasons to do so but what's the political pay off for her here?"
-- "Craig, said as only you can. You know, when talking about this affair, she comes across, there's no political rhetoric here, she says 'hey, I wanted to wring Bill's neck.' She's got this very straight forward language. Do you think this will resonate or ring true with women voters?"
-- "Craig, she is already, her book number two on advance sales on Amazon.com, a million copies printed, the cover of Time magazine. Look, if she generates this goodwill and this enormous wave of popularity is it possible we could see her jump into the presidential race earlier than expected, maybe even in 2004?"
June 5 CyberAlert item on coverage of Clinton's book: Though Hillary Clinton's tale in her new book about not realizing for eight months the truth of her husband's relationship with Monica Lewinsky is ludicrous, the networks bought her line without a scintilla of doubt. Wednesday TV stories were full of statements about how Clinton "reveals how she learned" of the Lewinsky reality and "writes candidly about the moment her husband admitted he'd been unfaithful." No story suggested that she owes an apology for smearing conservatives with her "vast right-wing conspiracy" fantasy. CNN's Jonathan Karl painted her as just naive: "Mrs. Clinton believed him and, famously, went on national television, unwittingly repeating his lies and denouncing the reports about Lewinsky as the product of a vast right-wing conspiracy." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Judging by the attitude expressed by Barbara Walters on Thursday morning's Good Morning America and The View, we'll be seeing a very sympathetic treatment of the former First Lady in Sunday's ABC News special promoting Hillary Clinton's new book.
On the June 5 Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Walters rationalized Mrs. Clinton's story that she didn't know the Lewinsky relationship with her husband was true until he told her about it eight months after the scandal broke. Why should she believe it, Walters argued, given all the allegations made against the couple:
Walters also effused about how honored she felt to have been picked by Hillary given how she conducted the first big interview with Lewinsky and how it shows that Mrs. Clinton has put Lewinsky "behind her." Walters assessed: "I was very surprised when Mrs. Clinton and her people decided, I guess Mrs. Clinton did, to do the interview with me, but what I think it means, Charlie, is that Monica's behind her, you see. Because the fact that she would do the interview with the person who had done the interview with Monica, I think, was 'this is behind me,' and I think now that she's written this book and been so frank about it -- and by the way, of course the President, President Clinton has read this book, this is not a surprise to him."
A few hour later on ABC's daytime show The View, Walters admired how Hillary Clinton dug deep and exposed her "raw" feelings: "You know hard it is, it's one thing to even write something in a book, it's another thing to have to say it and to have to dig into yourself and discuss your feelings, and she does. I mean, we went on and on about this."
Walters also contended her interview will offer an insight into the "bond" between Bill and Hillary: "Let me just say one more thing. When you see how she felt about him from the time she met him and the way she talks about him -- and you know, there's this whole question now of is this really a marriage? By the time you finish seeing this interview -- and I'm not just saying this, you know, to plug the interview -- you will understand why she stayed with him and the bond that there is between these two people. Now, remember there was also one more thing. The whole time that this is going on, he's still President, she's still First Lady, she still has to carry on and do these things. She has to maintain some kind of equilibrium while she is furious with him."
This morning, Friday, on GMA Walters played a clip of Hillary relating how she was attracted to Bill at Yale because of his long fingers. Hillary told Walters, as the two sat in a restaurant booth in Hillary's Illinois hometown: "He has these beautiful hands, very long fingers and I used to just love watching him, you know, turn the pages of a book or practice on his saxophone."
Insert in your double entendre jokes here.
ABC's one-hour special with Walters interviewing Hillary Clinton titled, "Hillary Clinton's Journey: Public, Private, Personal," is scheduled to air Sunday night at 7pm EDT, 6pm CDT and after the NBA finals game in the West, so at about 8pm PDT, 9pm MDT.
Barbara Walters, manager of the "Re-elect Senator Clinton Committee"? Walters told David Letterman on Thursday night that she thinks Hillary Clinton has "been a very good Senator," a "very hard-working junior Senator" and that "I think she'll be re-elected."
Walters made her comments during an appearance on the June 5 Late Show to plug her Sunday night ABC special promoting Hillary Clinton's new book.
When Letterman asked how good a job she's been doing as a Senator, Walter enthused: "I think she's been a very good Senator and very low key. All of this again dredges stuff up and puts her in the headlines, but you haven't been reading that much about her. She's been a very hard-working junior Senator."
Letterman wondered what the citizens of New York think of her, leading Walters to predict: "I think she'll be re-elected. I think she's done a good job."
Today, the third installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," quotes drawn from actor Sean Penn's 4,000-plus word ad which filled a full page of the May 30 New York Times.
As noted in the June 4 CyberAlert, it's impossible to sum up Penn's diatribe, so I'll defer to Tony Snow, who in his end of the show "Final Thoughts" on Fox News Sunday, offered this apt description of the screed: "It throbs with loopy desperation, as if he were trying to persuade authorities that aliens from Alpha Centauri had instructed him to scale a TV tower, put on a hat made of foil and await lightning. You know the old theory that a chimp, given enough time in front of a typewriter, would pound out the Gettysburg Address? Well, this is a simian rough draft."
For more of Snow's take and for the first installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," culled from the first three paragraphs of his diatribe headlined "KILROY'S STILL HERE," see the June 4 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
In early December 2002, I was invited by Norman Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy to join him his journalistic tour of Baghdad. I met with Norman and did some due diligence on the IPA. Norman is a softspoken gentleman, and a relentless author of books, essays, and articles exposing media truth and fiction. is a scholar of media truth bending and breaking, and his IPA is an American non-profit mobilizer dedicated to that journalistic mission. There was no question in my gut on this one. I accepted Norman's invitation and was going to Iraq.
I acknowledged the concerns of my wife and children for my safety and they acknowledged my need to replace television images with a real sense of place and people (If only the kind one gets visiting anywhere for the first time). You search for a taste, a smell, a piece of truth, something to attach to the questions of conscience that gnaw at many of us.
It was very clear that my trip, like my letter, would be misrepresented both in the United States and by the Iraqi press. But my view is unchanged, that as a weapon of propaganda, it would only be the most popular American media that could do myself and eventually our increasingly deployed troops any real harm. The United States had all the cards. We have the greatest military might the planet. The Iraq I visited was the most decimated, starved, diseased and polluted place I had ever witnessed. Much of this, the result of sanctions imposed upon its people by a United States-led coalition, and exacerbated by the willful exploitation of them by their own leadership. Saddam Hussein's three-page hokey mailer of a newspaper, promoting my visit as support for his leadership, would be no match for the positions taken by our own global networks in willful false depiction of my intentions and statements. I made no comments in Baghdad against our government. Not one. I did, however, declare an acceptance of some personal accountability for my government's actions, those then, and now, paid for in part by my tax dollars.
END of Excerpt
For a PDF of the ad, go to Penn's Web site: www.seanpenn.com
The direct address for the PDF, from which I plucked the above text: www.seanpenn.com
For picture of Penn and a rundown of his movie roles, check the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
Another installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day" in the next CyberAlert.
From the June 5 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Surprises in the Barbara Walters-Hillary Clinton Interview." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. Interview was conducted in a midtown Roy Rogers
9. Most of interview, Barbara is obscured by giant "Hillary In 2008" banner
8. All the giggling, doing each other's hair and talking about boys
7. Only question asked, "Do you like pie?"
6. The slap fight
5. Interview ended with a haunting rendition of Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle"
4. The blatant product placement for Skoal
3. Awkward silence after a handgun falls out of Hillary's purse and discharges
2. Bill's name never came up
1. Referred to President Bush as "that grinning monkey"
Okay, not one of the better Top Ten lists.
-- Brent Baker