Roberts' Work for Gay Rights Portrayed as Illustrating "Nuance" --8/8/2005
2. Enola Gay Vet Indignant When Williams Asks If He Has "Remorse"
3. After Stressing Bad, CBS Gives Short Shrift to Good Economic News
4. WashPost Editor Sees Finland's Welfare State as an "Inspiration"
5. A Few Times Peter Jennings Acknowledged Media Bias
The revelation that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts once pitched in pro bono on a gay rights case, animated NBC and CBS on Friday night. NBC Nightly News anchor Campbell Brown positively framed that as evidence of his "nuanced" views, that he had grown beyond conservative views: "Some advice he gave to gay rights advocates has some wondering if his thinking on important issues is more nuanced than was first thought." Pete Williams at least labeled activists on both sides: "While conservatives held off on attacking him, liberal and gay rights groups were equally reluctant to praise Roberts or to say that it eases their anxieties about his nomination." CBS's Bill Plante, however, applied ideological tags to only one side, citing how "conservative supporters were stunned to learn" about Roberts' role, but he described Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice as just one of his "critics."
NBC Nightly News fill-in anchor Campbell Brown introduced the August 5 story: "Now to the Supreme Court and a new wrinkle tonight in the unfolding picture of John Roberts, the nominee chosen by President Bush to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor. Some advice he gave to gay rights advocates has some wondering if his thinking on important issues is more nuanced than was first thought. Here's NBC's Pete Williams."
Williams began, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "As John Roberts met this week with the few Senators still around in the August break, a discovery from his past sent both liberal and conservative pressure groups scrambling for talking points. In 1995, while working at a Washington law firm that did pro bono, or donated, work, Roberts spent about six hours helping gay rights lawyers prepare to argue an important discrimination case. The Supreme Court later ruled their way, a significant gay rights victory. Discovering that Roberts helped out prompted conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh to predict big trouble."
Over on the CBS Evening News, substitute anchor Harry Smith set up their piece: "In just four weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee will open the John Roberts confirmation hearings. In the meantime, the guessing and speculation go on about who he is, where he stands, and what kind of Supreme Court justice he'd be. And now, Bill Plante reports, some new questions have been raised."
[From the MRC's NewsBusters site.] Brian Williams was off last week, but he left a taped piece with his bias for Friday's NBC Nightly News. To mark the 60th anniversary of the Enola Gay dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, Williams went to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles Airport -- where the plane is on display -- to talk to the plane's navigator, Dutch Van Kirk. Williams asked: "Do you have remorse for what happened? How do you deal with that in your mind?" Van Kirk indignantly replied: "No, I do not have remorse..."
A transcript of the second half of the August 5 NBC Nightly News story, picking up after Van Kirk offered some recollections of what he saw:
Williams intoned, over video of the devastation and injured children: "70,000 people in the city of Hiroshima were killed instantly. The lingering radiation killed 70,000 more over the next five years. But Dutch and his fellow crew members will have none of the controversy surrounding the bomb. They point out that the firebombing of Japanese cities earlier in the war killed four times as many people. It's widely believed the U.S. would have invaded Japan, and that the Japanese would have fought to the very end."
That ended the NBC story.
This article was first posted Friday night on my blog on the MRC's new blog site, NewsBusters.org, which is set to launch on Tuesday. For a picture of Van Kirk with Williams, check: newsbusters.org
For a sneak peek of the blog dedicated to exposing and combating liberal media bias: www.newsbusters.org
[From the MRC's NewsBusters site.] Just over two weeks ago, CBS reporter Trish Regan did a story for the Evening News premised on the idea that the "reality" of the U.S. economy is far gloomier than the positive comments from experts such as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. As the July 21 CyberAlert noted, Regan preferred to trust the offhand comments from people she met on the streets of New York City to all of the statistical evidence that the economy is growing at solid pace and creating jobs. On Friday night, after the announcement that 207,000 jobs were created in July, substitute anchor Harry Smith gave about 30 words to the good news before cautioning: "Hourly pay was up strongly and that has Wall Street worried about inflation."
Recounting what the July 21 CyberAlert reported, the MRC's Rich Noyes on Friday posted on his blog on the MRC's new NewsBusters site:
CBS showed Regan prompting a woman on a Manhattan sidewalk: "Alan Greenspan says the economy is doing fine, we're seeing a lot of growth. What do you think of that statement?"
The woman replied, "I disagree with that." Regan pressed her to go further: "Why do you disagree?" The woman answered, "Because the economy's not doing good if they're laying off so many people, so it's not good at all."
Regan then cherrypicked statistics to support the woman's pessimistic presumptions: "In June, nearly 111,000 jobs were lost, making it the worst stretch of job losses in nearly a year and a half." Then she showed this comment from an equally pessimistic man on the street: "It's very tenuous. It could fall apart at any moment. One bad piece of news, one additional perhaps terrorist attack, one negative corporate earnings, and it goes right down again."
Thanks to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor, we now know that just as Regan was touting the economy's supposed inability to create jobs, businesses added another 207,000 jobs in July, what Reuters characterized as "a healthy gain that outstripped economists' expectations."
And regarding her claim that "in June, nearly 111,000 jobs were lost," Regan utterly misled viewers. Last month's report indicated that business payrolls actually grew by 148,000 jobs in June.
Today's report changed that number, too, but not in Regan's favor. Job growth in June was actually 166,000 jobs. CBS's pessimism notwithstanding, the reality just keeps getting better and better.
For the July 21 CyberAlert article about CBS's July 20 story: www.mediaresearch.org
A month after the CBS Evening News devoted this whole story to Trish Regan focusing on how the U.S. had endured the "worst stretch of job losses in nearly a year and a half," on Friday night, with 207,000 jobs created in July, substitute anchor Harry Smith gave about 30 words to the good news before cautioning: "Hourly pay was up strongly and that has Wall Street worried about inflation."
What Smith said, in full, on the August 5 CBS Evening News:
Smith: "The job market is getting stronger. The government says unemployment in July held steady at five percent, as the economy created more than 200,000 jobs. That's well over a million so far this year. Hourly pay was up strongly and that has Wall Street worried about inflation. The Dow lost more than 50 points today."
Smith then moved on to another topic: "The Fed has been raising interest rates to keep inflation in check. But rates are still near historic lows, so many Americans, looking for a higher return on their savings, are turning to banks that do business only on the Web. Wyatt Andrews has our Friday 'Consumer Alert.'"
For the NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org
For a sneak peek at NewsBusters.org, dedicated to exposing and combating liberal media bias, go to: www.newsbusters.org
Please check out the ne site. We welcome your comments.
The former number two editor of the Washington Post, Robert Kaiser, yearns for the U.S. to follow the cradle-to-grave welfare state system enacted in Finland. In a Sunday Outlook section piece, "In Finland's Footsteps: If We're So Rich and Smart, Why Aren't We More Like Them?," Kaiser contended that "for a patriotic American like me, the Finns present a difficult challenge: If we Americans are so rich and so smart, why can't we treat our citizens as well as the Finns do?" The former Post Managing Editor, who is now an Associate Editor, listed the free services Finns get: "They pay nothing for education at any level, including medical school or law school. Their medical care, which contributes to an infant mortality rate that is half of ours and a life expectancy greater than ours, costs relatively little.... Unemployment benefits are good and last, in one form or another, indefinitely." Kaiser conceded that Finland has some downsides, such as high taxes, but still maintained the nation "can be an inspiration."
Kaiser and a photographer traveled to Finland for a series of stories run in the paper in June and July.
An excerpt from his August 7 piece in the Sunday opinion section, which carried the jump page headline: "The Best Little Country in Europe":
Life in Finland, one of the world's best functioning welfare states and least known success stories, can be complicated. Consider the dilemma confronting parents looking for day care for a 4-year-old daughter in Kuhmo, a town of 10,000 near the middle of the country.
Should they put their child into the town nursery school, where she could spend her weekdays from 6:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. with about 40 other children, cared for by a 47-year-old principal with 20 years' experience, Mirsa Pussinen, as well as four teachers with master's degrees in preschool education, two teacher's aides and one cook? The girl would hear books read aloud every day, play games with numbers and the alphabet, learn some English, dig in the indoor sandbox or run around outside, sing and perform music, dress up for theatrical games, paint pictures, eat a hot lunch, take a nap if she wanted one, learn to play and work with others.
Or should that 4-year-old spend her days in home care? Most parents in Kuhmo choose this option, and put their children into the care of women such as Anneli Vaisanen, who has three or four kids in her home for the day. The 49-year-old Vaisanen doesn't have a master's, but she has received extensive training, has provided day care for two decades and has two grown children of her own. The kids in her charge do most of the things those at the center do, but with less order and organization. They also bake bread and make cakes.
How to decide? There's no financial difference; both forms of day care cost the parents nothing. There's no difference in the schooling that will follow day care -- all the kids in Kuhmo (and throughout Finland) will have essentially identical opportunities in Finnish schools, Europe's best. There is no "elite" choice, no working-class choice; everyone is treated equally.
It's a dilemma that American parents don't have a chance to confront. And it's a vivid example of the difference between what the Finns call a social democracyand our society. Finland is a leading example of the northern European view that a successful, competitive society should provide basic social services to all its citizens at affordable prices or at no cost at all. This isn't controversial in Finland; it is taken for granted. For a patriotic American like me, the Finns present a difficult challenge: If we Americans are so rich and so smart, why can't we treat our citizens as well as the Finns do?
Finns have one of the world's most generous systems of state-funded educational, medical and welfare services, from pregnancy to the end of life. They pay nothing for education at any level, including medical school or law school. Their medical care, which contributes to an infant mortality rate that is half of ours and a life expectancy greater than ours, costs relatively little. (Finns devote 7 percent of gross domestic product to health care; we spend 15 percent.) Finnish senior citizens are well cared for. Unemployment benefits are good and last, in one form or another, indefinitely.
On the other hand, Finns live in smaller homes than Americans and consume a lot less. They spend relatively little on national defense, though they still have universal male conscription, and it is popular. Their per capita national income is about 30 percent lower than ours. Private consumption of goods and services represents about 52 percent of Finland's economy, and 71 percent of the United States'. Finns pay considerably higher taxes -- nearly half their national income is taken in taxes, while Americans pay about 30 percent on average to federal, state and local governments.
Should we be learning from Finland?
The question occurred to me repeatedly as I traveled around Finland this summer. Americans could easily get used to the sense of well-being that Finns get from their welfare state, which has effectively removed many of the tangible sources of anxiety that beset our society.
But the United States could not simply turn itself into another Finland. Too much of Finnish reality depends on uniquely Finnish circumstances. Finland is as big as two Missouris, but with just 5.2 million residents -- fewer than metropolitan Washington. It is ethnically and religiously homogeneous. A strong Lutheran work ethic, combined with a powerful sense of probity, dominates the society. Homogeneity has led to consensus: Every significant Finnish political party supports the welfare state and, broadly speaking, the high taxation that makes it possible. And Finns have extraordinary confidence in their political class and public officials. Corruption is extremely rare....
One fundamental Finnish value sounds a lot like an American principle -- "to provide equal opportunities in life for everyone," as Pekka Himanen, a 31-year-old intellectual wunderkind in Helsinki, put it. Himanen, a product of Finnish schools who got his PhD in philosophy at 21, argues that Finland now does this much better than the United States, where he lived for several years while associated with the University of California in Berkeley.
In Finland, Himanen said, opportunity does not depend on "an accident of birth." All Finns have an equal shot at life, liberty and happiness. Yes, this is supposed to be an American thing, but many well-traveled younger Finns, who all seem to speak English, have a Finnish take on American realities. Miapetra Kumpula, a 32-year-old member of Parliament, volunteered this on the American dream: "Sure, anyone can get rich -- but most won't."...
The Finnish educational system is the key to the country's successes and that, too, is a manifestation of egalitarianism. Surprisingly, it is a new system, created over the last generation by a collective act of will. The individual most responsible for it was Erkki Aho, director general of the National Board of Education from 1972 to 1992. Aho, now 68, was "a little bit of a radical," he told me with a smile -- a Finnish Social Democrat who believed in trying to make his country more fair. The early '70s were a radical time in Finland. Change was in the air....
I found Finnish society beguiling on many levels, but in the end concluded that it could not serve as a blueprint for the United States. National differences matter. The Finns are special and so are we. Ours is a society driven by money, blessed by huge private philanthropy, cursed by endemic corruption and saddled with deep mistrust of government and other public institutions. Finns have none of those attributes.
Nor do they tune in to American individualism. Groupthink seems to be fine with most Finns; conformity is the norm, risk-taking is avoided -- a problem now, when entrepreneurs are so needed. I was bothered by a sense of entitlement among many Finns, especially younger people.
Sirpa Jalkanen, a distinguished microbiologist and biotech entrepreneur affiliated with Turku University in that ancient Finnish port city, told me she was discouraged by "this new generation we have now who love entertainment, the easy life." She said she wished the government would require every university student to pay a "significant but affordable" part of the cost of their education, "just so they'd appreciate it." Today every Finnish student is assured free tuition and a monthly stipend to live on that they can receive for 55 months, the length of the six-year courses most still take.
But if Finland can't be a blueprint for us, it can be an inspiration. Education struck me as the area where Americans could most profit by learning from Finland. Nothing achieved by Aho's reforms would be beyond the reach of American schools if we really wanted them to become good.
And I think we could learn from Finns' confidence that they can shape their own fate. Finns speak of the Finnish National Project, an effort involving much of the country, and nearly all of its elites, to make the country more educated, more agile and adaptive, more green, more fair and more competitive in a fast-changing global economy. Manuel Castells, the renowned Spanish sociologist who teaches at the University of Southern California and has been writing about Finland for nearly a decade, argues that Finland's ability to remake itself followed from its success in creating a welfare state that made Finns feel secure. "If you provide security and it is felt, then you can make reforms," he said in an interview. Of course you have to agree on what reforms are needed.
The complicated Finnish language includes the word talkoot, which means, roughly, "doing work together." It's a powerful Finnish tradition, and reflects a national sense that "we're all in the same boat," as numerous Finns said to me. This idea has always appealed to Americans, but in this country it has nearly always been an abstraction. Finns seem to make it real.
END of Excerpt
For the piece in full: www.washingtonpost.com
The MRC's archive is packed with documentation of liberal bias from Peter Jennings, who was frequently cited in CyberAlert, but on this day after his passing we'll focus on how a couple of times he acknowledged the media's liberal tilt. Asked in 2002 about liberal bias, Jennings conceded that "I think sometimes it's a problem" and that historically "there were not enough conservative voices on the air." Last year, Jennings admitted that the media's "focus on the loss of American soldiers and now civilians on a sometimes almost daily basis...overshadows" how "life is improving for people in Iraq in many, many ways."
Stewart raised liberal media bias: "How do you think the press is handling the Republican presidency? Do you think there's a liberal bias? That's, the big accusation is that the major press, the media elite so to speak, has a liberal slant. Do you think that is an actual problem or do you think that's a perception?
Toward the end of Thursday's Larry King Live on CNN, on which Jennings appeared to plug his Thursday night special about Ecstasy and three-hour Monday night special, Jesus and Paul, King asked him about his impressions of Iraq after returning there a few weeks ago. Jennings replied:
-- Brent Baker