NBC Greets Tax Cut Signing by Ruing Lack of Money for Cities --5/29/2003
2. LA Times Editor Fingers and Addresses Liberal Bias in Own Paper
3. Poll Finds Most Think Media Don't Get Facts Straight
4. Nightline Trumpets Activist's Quest to Count "Victims of War"
5. Actor Yells at FNC, Plus Writers Guild 99% "Leftist Liberal"
6. ABC Claims "We've All Been Waiting" for Walters with Hillary
+++ Now online, the May 26 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the topic headings:
"NY Times Editor Failed Own Test"; "U.S. Special Forces: Hospital Wreckers, Not Heroic Rescuers"; "'Forced' to Raise Taxes"; "Mondale, Dukakis Not Liberal"; "Heroic Renegades vs. Tom DeLay" and "Haven't They Suffered Enough?" To read all the quotes:
Tom Brokaw greeted President Bush's signing of the tax cut bill by lamenting how "yesterday there was no ceremony for the President's signature on a bill allowing the government to borrow almost $7.5 trillion." But then Brokaw advocated even more federal spending as he complained that in "cities across America, local officials are asking who's gonna help us?"
Reporter Anne Thompson focused on how "in some cities, like Minneapolis, caught in the vice of shrinking revenues and increasing spending pressures for things like homeland security, there is little applause because there is no direct federal aid."
Thompson relayed a blast at Bush from the mayor and passed along how the city needs federal money because it has laid off firefighters and police officers and dropped after school programs, but she failed to point out how over the last decade Minnesota state spending has soared at nearly twice the rate of inflation.
Brokaw led the May 28 NBC Nightly News: "Good evening. It has been one of the most contentious issues of the Bush administration, and it has changed shape many times. But tonight it's a done deal. The President has his major tax cut, and he promises it is good for the economy. Workers will begin to see the results next month when their withholding deductions are reduced. The President signed the $330 billion tax cut in East Room ceremonies, the third largest tax cut in history. But yesterday there was no ceremony for the President's signature on a bill allowing the government to borrow almost $7.5 trillion. That's to help finance the federal government deficit. But in cities across America, local officials are asking who's gonna help us? Here's NBC's Anne Thompson."
Thompson began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Signing the tax cut he once derided as 'little-bitty,' today President Bush lauded it as substantial."
Before Minneapolis demands a bailout from Washington, maybe they should look a bit closer to home. A February 12 report by the Cato Institute, "States Face Fiscal Crunch after 1990s Spending Surge," by Chris Edwards, Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen, features a table which shows that Minnesota tax revenue grew by 98 percent between 1990 and 2001 while population growth plus inflation only equaled 54 percent over the same time period.
Why should taxpayers in other states be forced to save Minnesota from its own profligacy?
For the Cato report, in PDF form: www.cato.org
A critic has accused the Los Angeles Times of publishing a story, on an abortion bill in Texas, that demonstrated the "occasional reality" that the LA Times is a "liberal, 'politically correct' newspaper." That critic? John Carroll, the Editor and Executive Vice President of the very same Los Angeles Times.
(The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for inclusion in the CyberAlert.)
On Thursday, May 22, the Times published a front-page story by reporter Scott Hood in Houston headlined, "Texas OKs Disputed Abortion Legislation." On Wednesday of this week, the Poynter Institute's Romenesko (www.poynter.org ) page of media news linked to a Web site about the LA area media, LAObserved.com, which obtained a copy of a memo sent by Carroll, on the day of the biased story, to "SectionEds." The subject line: "Credibility/abortion."
Carroll chastised his staff: "The apparent bias of the writer and/or the desk reveals itself in the third paragraph, which characterizes such bills in Texas and elsewhere as requiring 'so-called counseling of patients.' I don't think people on the anti-abortion side would consider it 'so-called,' a phrase that is loaded with derision." Carroll insisted: "We are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times."
If only a few more media leaders showed such an interest.
An excerpt from Carroll's memo:
I'm concerned about the perception -- and the occasional reality -- that the Times is a liberal, 'politically correct' newspaper. Generally speaking, this is an inaccurate view, but occasionally we prove our critics right. We did so today with the front-page story on the bill in Texas that would require abortion doctors to counsel patients that they may be risking breast cancer.
The apparent bias of the writer and/or the desk reveals itself in the third paragraph, which characterizes such bills in Texas and elsewhere as requiring "so-called counseling of patients." I don't think people on the anti-abortion side would consider it "so-called," a phrase that is loaded with derision. The story makes a strong case that the link between abortion and breast cancer is widely discounted among researchers, but I wondered as I read it whether somewhere there might exist some credible scientist who believes in it.
Such a person makes no appearance in the story's lengthy passage about the scientific issue. We do quote one of the sponsors of the bill, noting that he "has a professional background in property management." Seldom will you read a cheaper shot than this. Why, if this is germane, wouldn't we point to legislators on the other side who are similarly bereft of scientific credentials?
It is not until the last three paragraphs of the story that we finally surface a professor of biology and endocrinology who believes the abortion/cancer connection is valid. But do we quote him as to why he believes this? No. We quote his political views.
Apparently the scientific argument for the anti-abortion side is so absurd that we don't need to waste our readers' time with it.
The reason I'm sending this note to all section editors is that I want everyone to understand how serious I am about purging all political bias from our coverage. We may happen to live in a political atmosphere that is suffused with liberal values (and is unreflective of the nation as a whole), but we are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times....
END of Excerpt
The memo is posted at: www.laobserved.com
Carroll has been Editor and Executive Vice President of the Times since he left the Baltimore Sun in 2000 and last year he assumed the chairmanship of the Pulitzer Prize board. For his bio: www.latimes.com
For a photo of Carroll, which accompanied a Columbia University announcement last year about him being named to head the Pulitzer Prize board, see: www.columbia.edu
Hood's story did contain nearly all of the trademarks of a biased story. It pitted "conservative organizations" against "women's health advocates." Its count of experts pitted six dismissers of the abortion-cancer link, against three proponents. While he dismissed the bill's sponsor, Rep. Frank Corte, for his "background in property management," Hood didn't exactly rely on research scientists on the liberal side. Four of the six dismissers are affiliated with pro-abortion groups, another is a cancer society publicist, and the only scientist of the group is the owner and practitioner at a Houston abortion clinic.
As Carroll noted, Dr. Joel Brind, a biology and endocrinology professor at the City University of New York, was only asked for his political opinion at the end of the story, long after Hood concluded in the article's second paragraph: "That link, however, does not exist, according to the American Cancer Society and federal government researchers, and critics say the law is a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate, frighten, and shame women who are seeking an abortion." He followed that by suggesting proponents of the link don't really believe in it, but think the science "remains inconclusive." Pro-life experts do not consider the science "inconclusive."
For a more in-depth view of the case for an abortion-cancer link, and the contention that federal government researchers have manipulated the scientific debate, see: www.abortionbreastcancer.com
To read Hood's May 22 story in its slanted entirety, go to: www.latimes.com
For the LAObserved.com Web site's discussion of the memo: www.laobserved.com
Carroll deserves applause for recognizing and addressing liberal bias in his newspaper, a media-wide skew on abortion which the paper highlighted long before Carroll arrived.
As recounted in the August 1990 MediaWatch, a newsletter published by the MRC at the time, the LA Times' David Shaw wrote a four-part series, published July 1-4, 1990, about the media's pro-abortion tilt. An excerpt from the August 1990 MediaWatch article about it:
....Shaw noted that abortion opponents believe "media bias manifests itself, in print and on the air, almost daily." Shaw confirmed that belief: "A comprehensive Times study of major newspaper, television, and newsmagazine coverage over the last 18 months, including more than 100 interviews with journalists and with activists on both sides of the abortion debate, confirms that this [pro-abortion] bias often exists."
A number of major reporters whose primary beat is abortion agreed with Shaw's conclusion. "I think that when abortion opponents complain about a bias in newsrooms against their cause, they're absolutely right," Boston Globe legal reporter Ethan Bronner told Shaw....
-- "The media's language consistently embraces the rights of the woman (the primary focus of abortion-rights advocates), not the fetus (the primary focus of abortion opponents)." When the Louisiana legislature passed an anti-abortion bill, it was the nation's "harshest," and most "restrictive," not, as abortion opponents believe, the kindest, to the unborn child, or the most protective. Reporters "have referred to those who oppose abortion 'even in cases of rape or incest' (circumstances under which most people approve of abortion). But the media almost never refer to those who favor abortion rights 'even in the final weeks of pregnancy' (circumstances under which most people oppose abortion)."
-- "Abortion opponents are often described as 'conservatives'; abortion-rights supporters are rarely labeled as 'liberals.' Abortion opponents are sometimes identified as Catholics (or fundamentalist Christians), even when their religion is not demonstrably relevant to a given story; abortion-rights advocates are rarely identified by religion. Abortion opponents are often described as 'militant' or 'strident'; such characterizations are seldom used to describe abortion-rights advocates, many of whom can also be militant or strident -- or both."...
-- "Like most newspapers, the [Milwaukee] Journal had long used 'pro-choice,' without any complaint from the staff that it was unfair. But when Sig Gissler, editor of the Journal, wrote in a column that the paper would also begin using 'pro-life,' more than 80 reporters and editors petitioned him in protest before the column was even published."
-- "The media rarely illustrate stories on abortion with photographs of aborted fetuses -- or even, generally, of developed fetuses -- claiming that to do so would be in bad taste and might offend readers. But no such concern inhibits the media from showing photos of starving, tragically bloated children in Ethiopia."...
END of Excerpt from MediaWatch
Nearly 13 years have passed since Shaw's expose, but it seems the media remain just as skewed on the topic of abortion.
"Public confidence in the media, already low, continues to slip," USA Today's Peter Johnson summarized in relaying a finding of a new CNN/USA Today Gallup poll. Johnson reported in a May 28 story: "Only 36 percent, among the lowest in years, believe news organizations get the facts straight." But that's actually a bit better than where the media stood in December of 2000.
Johnson ran through the history of the question: "Trust in the media has dropped from 54 percent in mid-1989 -- about the time of the fall of communism -- to a low of 32 percent in December 2000, during the post-election confusion over George W. Bush and Al Gore."
The low esteem in which the media are held cannot be blamed, however, just on the Jayson Blair scandal since most have never heard of it. Johnson explained: "The public seems generally uninterested in his saga, which tarnished the reputation of one of the world's pre-eminent publications and prompted a painful re-examination of the newspaper's practices. About two out of three people polled said they are not following the story."
To be specific, in the poll taken May 19-21, only 32 percent said they were following the Blair case "very closely" or somewhat closely" while 65 percent conceded they were following it "not closely" or "not at all," euphemisms for "never heard of it."
For Johnson's story in full: www.usatoday.com
ABC's Nightline on Tuesday night trumpeted the cause of a 26-year-old American woman in Iraq on a quest to count the number of civilians killed by the coalition and the war and to acquire compensation for their families.
For the laudatory profile, reporter David Wright followed around Iraq the "lone peace activist" who has "taken it upon herself to help the civilian victims of war." Wright reported how "she has organized 150 surveyors to fan out across Iraq. So far they've documented 620 civilian deaths in Baghdad, 256 in Najaf, 425 in Karbala and as many as 1,100 in Nasiriyah -- it's only a preliminary count. The work is painstaking, meeting one-on-one with people whose lives have been ruined."
How many were killed by coalition forces versus how many were killed by the Hussein regime, either directly or by being put in the line of fire, was not a subject raised by Wright.
Ted Koppel set up the May 27 Nightline story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "Among the many unanswered questions from the war in Iraq, one in particular nags at a woman from the San Francisco Bay area. She has been in Baghdad since the day that Saddam statue fell -- visiting hospitals, knocking on doors, trying to answer a single question. ABC's David Wright introduces us tonight to Marla Ruzicka."
Two signals about how entrenched liberalism in Hollywood means political shows promote a liberal world view. On ABC's The View, actor John Spencer, who plays Chief-of-Staff Leo McGarry on NBC's The West Wing, argued against making his show more conservative as he asserted that "as a left of center liberal Democrat, I like to watch Fox and yell at all those people," so conservatives should enjoy yelling at The West Wing.
And on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday, Lawrence O'Donnell, the Executive Producer of NBC's cancelled Mr. Sterling, a show about a liberal Senator, was quite adamant that we'll never see a political drama set around a Republican hero because "the Writers Guild of America, my union, is at a minimum, 99 percent leftist liberal."
-- During an appearance on ABC's daytime show The View on Wednesday, May 28, quad-host Joy Behar asked Spencer about whether the show's creator, Aaron Sorkin, was forced out because the network wanted to make the show more conservative.
Spencer pled ignorance and the recounted his reaction to watching "Fox," by which he probably meant the Fox News Channel, not the network of American Idol and the Simpsons:
I'm sure many have done so before turning the channel, though the season-ender a few weeks ago concluded with a big, fat and rude Republican Speaker of the House, played by John Goodman, becoming the President, at least for a while under a 25th amendment transfer of power. A fresh far-right foil for the new writers.
For a bio and picture of Spencer, who plays Chief-of-Staff Leo McGarry: www.nbc.com
-- On Sunday's Reliable Sources, host Howard Kurtz played an excerpt from a panel discussion he moderated, which was held by the Kaiser Family Foundation, about how politicians are portrayed on TV entertainment programs. The panel was made up of former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling, Dennis Haysbert, the actor who plays the President on Fox's 24, and Lawrence O'Donnell, creator and Executive Producer of NBC's short-lived Mr. Sterling.
In an exchange brought to our attention by an e-mailer and tracked down by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory, Kurtz inquired of O'Donnell: "One thing these programs have in common, conservatives are practically invisible. President Bartlet is a Democrat. Martin Sheen, in fact, made anti-war ads before the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Sterling is a California liberal based loosely on Jerry Brown. Why aren't there any Republicans?"
For a bio and picture of O'Donnell, a former Democratic Senate staffer who is currently a semi-regular on the McLaughlin Group: www.mclaughlin.com
Speak for yourself. A new ABC News promo for Barbara Walters' interview with Senator Hillary Clinton, set coincide with an autobiography carrying the Senator's name, proclaims that it's "the interview we've all been waiting for."
Have you? I sure haven't.
I caught the brief promo which ran at the end of Wednesday's The View. Over video of Walters and Clinton walking on Washington DC's Mall, the announcer excitedly hyped: "Sunday June 8th: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbara Walters. The interview we've all been waiting for and the book that tells all. Sunday June 8th. Nothing's off limits."
We'll see about whether some things really are off limits.
The DrudgeReport ( www.drudgereport.com ), by the way, reported on Tuesday that Hillary Clinton didn't even write her "autobiography," but in a change from her previous book, at least she indirectly acknowledges it. Drudge reported: "In her new book, Living History, Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledges -- in opening pages -- three women for their assistance and contribution to the project, the Drudge Report has learned.
As reported in the July 1993 MediaWatch, ghostwriter Muscatine has news media experience: "After 12 years with The Washington Post, Alison Muscatine has moved to the White House as a speechwriter for President Clinton. A sports reporter since 1990, Muscatine previously reported metro news and served as Maryland editor. At the White House, she has joined a writing team that already includes Carolyn Curiel, an editor at the Post in the mid-'80s."
Muscatine went on to write the First Lady's newspaper column and help with the It Takes a Village book.
Apparently it took a village to churn out Hillary Clinton's "autobiography" which the media eagerly await.
-- Brent Baker