60 Minutes Scolds Bush for Repeating What CBS Reported
3. CBS Brings Back the Term "Gravitas"
NY Times Runs Edited Versions of Spiked Columns
Journalism Prof Applauds Column Claiming Conservative Media Tilt
NPR national political correspondent faced something on Fox News Sunday which he is unused to getting on NPR: Other panelists correcting the inaccurate assumptions upon which he built the liberal spin he had just delivered.
When Williams remarked that the Bush administration wish to end the taxation of dividends means they think "corporations shouldn't pay taxes in this country," Tony Snow interrupted Williams to point out how "that doesn't have anything to do with corporations paying taxes," Williams plowed ahead: "They say that dividends are double-taxed, that they're taxed when the profits come in for the corporation and taxed when you receive it as a dividend....So why shouldn't you be taxed on that?" Snow succinctly explained: "Bill Gates gets to get rich and the people who own shares in his company can't."
Just seconds after complaining about how his 401(k) has done poorly during the Bush years, Williams argued against measures to allow investors to keep more of what their investments earn. During the panel segment on the December 8 Fox News Sunday, NPR's Williams was disturbed by Bill Kristol's prediction that the administration would press for more tax cuts:
Don't be surprised that Williams does not understand basic economics and thinks that corporations are taxed when their stockholders have their dividends taxed. After all, he probably relies on NPR for all of his news.
CBS's 60 Minutes versus George W. Bush and the CBS Evening News. In a Sunday night 60 Minutes story, CBS News reporter Bob Simon contended that the Bush administration has exaggerated the threat from Iraq by selectively and misleadingly citing reports of Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear weapon.
But in contradicting President Bush's citation of a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Simon also contradicted what CBS Pentagon correspondent David Martin reported on the CBS Evening News back in August.
MRC analyst Brian Boyd took down what Simon claimed on the December 8 60 Minutes. Simon's first example:
Was Simon playing semantic games? As cited in the August 8 CyberAlert, on the August 7 CBS Evening News Martin asserted something similar to what Bush said, not that Iraq was six months away but a year away:
The time frame cited by Bush was an accurate estimate according to an IAEA report which seems to have eluded Simon but which the MRC's Rich Noyes tracked down.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (which was headed in 1991 by Hans Blix) issued a report on July 11, 1991 -- "Consolidated Report on the First Two IAEA Inspections Under Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) of Iraqi Nuclear Capabilities" -- and reported that "the Iraqis had been pursuing an undeclared uranium enrichment programme using the electromagnetic isotope separation technique (EMIS)" (p. 9) with several sites being used for various aspects of the enrichment program:
For the report in full, which is only online as a PDF: http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/Programmes/ActionTeam/reports/S_22788.pdf
Maybe Simon put his personal views ahead of balanced and accurate reporting. As reported in the October 4 CyberAlert: CBS News veteran foreign correspondent Bob Simon declared his opposition to war with Iraq: "I don't think that going to war with him is the right thing to do right now." Simon contended to USA Today's Peter Johnson that most Arabs see an invasion as "arrogant American imperialism which will just sow the seeds for more terrorism." Details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021004.asp#1
Simon delivered commentary on the October 27 Sunday Morning in which he hoped Bush was just pulling off a big ruse and would not attack Iraq:
Roberts asserted on the December 6 CBS Evening News:
Apparently it takes a man with gravitas to see the lack of it in others.
An embarrassed New York Times on Sunday ran the two sports columns which had been spiked because they contradicted the paper's editorial position on the relevance of the Augusta National Golf Club's male-only membership policy and how Tiger Woods should boycott the Masters tournament held at the Georgia course.
The Times, however, still censored the columns by insisting that criticism of the Times editorial position be removed.
In a Friday posting on MSNBC.com, Newsweek's Seth Mnookin quoted columnist Dave Anderson: "'All I had to do is remove one little phrase, and it's a phrase I would have removed three weeks ago.' Anderson would not say what he had to alter, but a source at the Times said the column was purged of any references to the paper's editorials."
For Mnokin's December 6 take: http://www.msnbc.com/news/844190.asp?0cv=CB20&cp1=1
A Saturday New York Times story by Felicity Barringer relayed the paper's justification for the censoring of the columns:
Raines maintained that what had happened had not happened:
Welcome to the Orwellian world of the Howell Raines-run New York Times.
For Barringer's article in full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/07/national/07PAPE.html
For the edited version of Dave Anderson's column, "Woods Is Not Obliged to Boycott," go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/08/sports/golf/08ANDE.html
For the edited version of Harvey Araton's column, "Other Women's Issues Need a Voice," see: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/08/sports/golf/08ARAT.html
Previous CyberAlert articles about the New York Times' golf crusade and censoring of contrary columns:
-- New York Times Executive Editor Howard Raines has gone so over the top in using the paper to advance his own political agenda that even this week's Newsweek took notice in a two-page piece by Seth Mnookin headlined, "A hard-charging editor's crusading style is coloring the Gray Lady's reputation." Newsweek picked up on a Raines quote highlighted repeatedly by the MRC: "He once said the Reagan years 'oppressed me because the callousness and the greed and the hardhearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society.'" http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021203.asp#3
-- So much for the vaunted separation between New York Times editorial and news pages. The Times spiked columnists who wanted to disagree with a Times editorial urging Tiger Woods to boycott the Masters tournament because the host golf club doesn't have any female members. Managing Editor Gerald Boyd contended the "strict separation between the news and editorial pages" means they cannot criticize each other. Newsweek's Seth Mnookin observed: "The paper's thinking seemed to run something like this: we're against this horrible discrimination, and we're going to resort to censorship to make our point." http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021205.asp#5
Why future journalists will be just as liberal as the current ones. Reacting to E.J. Dionne Jr.'s column in Friday's Washington Post in which he argued that the media are "heavily biased toward conservative politics and conservative politicians," an Ohio journalism professor proclaimed: "Finally, someone tells it like it is!"
That reaction appeared as feedback to the posting of a link to Dionne's column on Jim Romenesko's MediaNews page (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/)
In a feedback item posted on Friday, Afi Scruggs, who identified herself as a visiting assistant professor in journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, OH, praised Dionne's thinking:
"Beginning to see a subtle shift toward advocacy journalism"? What do you call what has been practiced by the networks for years? Rush Limbaugh is on the radio, but how is he any more of an advocate that Bill Moyers pontificating on the CBS Evening News as he did for years during the 1980s? At least Limbaugh is clearly a commentator while the networks claim to be delivering straight news.
The Scruggs comments are online at: http://www.poynter.org/article_feedback/article_feedback_view.asp?id=395
A MRC Media Reality Check "Quick Take" and CyberAlert Special on Friday quoted Dionne's column and how he cited a CyberAlert item from last week about Katie Couric as an example of how conservatives have successfully intimidated the press, but below is a longer excerpt from the December 6 column by Dionne, who was a New York Times and then a Washington Post political reporters before becoming a full-time columnist nearly ten years ago. It was titled "The Rightward Press." The excerpt:
The fat is in the fire on the issue of media bias, and that is a good thing. It's time to revisit a matter on which the conventional wisdom is, roughly, 180 degrees off.
You hear the conventional wisdom all the time from shrewd conservative commentators who understand that political pressure, relentlessly applied, usually achieves its purposes. They have sold the view that the media are dominated by liberals and that the news is skewed against conservatives.
This belief fueled the construction of a large network of conservative institutions -- especially on radio and cable television -- that provides conservative viewpoints close to 24 hours a day. Conservatives argued that hopelessly left-wing establishment news sources needed to be balanced by brave, relentless voices from the right.
But the continuing attacks on mainstream journalists have another effect. Because the drumbeat of conservative press criticism has been so steady, the establishment press has internalized it. Editors and network executives are far more likely to hear complaints from the right than from the left.
To the extent that there has been a bias in the establishment media, it has been less a liberal tilt than a preference for the values of the educated, professional class -- which, surprise, surprise, is roughly the class position of most journalists.
This meant that on social and cultural issues -- abortion and religion come to mind -- journalism was not particularly hospitable to conservative voices. But on economic issues -- especially free trade and balanced budgets -- the press tilted toward the center or even toward moderate conservatism. You might say that the two groups most likely to be mistreated by the media were religious conservatives and trade unionists....
Limbaugh's new respectability is the surest sign that the conservative talk network is now bleeding into what passes for the mainstream media, just as the unapologetic conservatism of the Fox News Channel is now affecting programming on the other cable networks. This shift to the right is occurring as cable becomes a steadily more important source of news.
All this constitutes a genuine triumph for conservatives. But rather than rest on their laurels, they continue to pound away at any media deviation from their version of political correctness. When Katie Couric had the nerve to ask some tough questions of EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman on Monday's "Today" show, the ever-alert conservative Media Research Center trashed Couric for bias. When the Chicago Tribune ran an unflattering picture of President Bush on its Nov. 14 front page, it was assailed for a lack of patriotism. Editors who worry about conservative criticism are not paranoid. You just wonder: Where have the liberals been?
It took conservatives a lot of hard and steady work to push the media rightward. It dishonors that work to continue to presume that -- except for a few liberal columnists -- there is any such thing as the big liberal media. The media world now includes (1) talk radio, (2) cable television and (3) the traditional news sources (newspapers, newsmagazines and the old broadcast networks). Two of these three major institutions tilt well to the right, and the third is under constant pressure to avoid even the pale hint of liberalism. These institutions, in turn, influence the burgeoning world of online news and commentary.
What it adds up to is a media heavily biased toward conservative politics and conservative politicians. Kudos to the right. Now, what will the rest of us do about the new bias?
END of Excerpt
For Dionne's piece in full: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16431-2002Dec5.html
To read the December 3 CyberAlert item Dionne cited, which documented how Couric hit Whitman only from the left: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021203.asp#4
Of course, Dionne avoided how our concern was not that she deviated from our definition of political correctness but that her questioning represented just the latest example of a media figure approaching the environment from the left instead of giving equal weight to the concerns of liberals and conservatives.
But we appreciate Dionne's plug of us as "ever-alert." Maybe I could incorporate that into a new slogan for CyberAlert, something like "The ever-alert CyberAlert" or "CyberAlert: Your ever-alert media bias watchdog."
As for Dionne's reasoning that two of the three media categories, talk radio and cable TV news "tilt well to the right" while the traditional media "is under constant pressure to avoid even the pale hint of liberalism," Dionne's reasoning presumes all three are equally credible or influential.
Talk radio may be popular and have some influence, but no one considers it to be on par with CBS News which claims to present a balanced look at the day's news. And the traditional media, which unlike talk radio denies it has a point of view, have far more readers and viewers than talk radio and cable TV have listeners and watchers -- and the traditional media are where the least politically-aware receive their news and because of their lack of knowledge they are the ones most easily swayed by the traditional media's liberal tilt.
And while FNC may indeed appeal to conservatives, that doesn't make CNN and MSNBC any less liberal. In the past year, in fact, CNN and MSNBC have shifted to the left with MSNBC rearranging prime time around Phil Donahue and CNN giving prime time hours to Connie Chung and Aaron Brown. -- Brent Baker