Washington Post Labels GOP Senate Chairmen, Not Democratic Ones -- 11/12/2002 CyberAlert

Washington Post Labels GOP Senate Chairmen, Not Democratic Ones
Washington Post labeling bias, part one: In offering short bios last week of 13 Republicans Senators slated to become committee chairmen, the Post applied ideological labels to 11, with nine of the 11 getting tagged with a conservative label. But 17 months earlier, when the Jeffords defection put Democrats in control, the paper's page of profiles of the newly elevated Democratic chairmen not only labeled just one Democrat as a liberal, it managed to apply conservative tags to two outgoing Republican chairmen. Conservative to the Post: Pete Domenici and John Warner. Not liberal: Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin and Patrick Leahy.

2. An ADA Rating of 92% Makes You a "Centrist"?
Washington Post labeling bias, part two: Though he earned solidly liberal vote ratings during his years in Congress, the Post preposterously described Maine's new Democratic Governor, John E. Baldacci, as "a centrist back-bencher in Congress" who "is known as something of a conservative within the Democratic Party."

3. New NBC Political Drama to Star Streisand's Stepson
Update. The new prime time drama about a U.S. Senator, whose stars, the November 11 CyberAlert reported, told CNN's Bill Schneider that they see Paul Wellstone and Nancy Pelosi as their role models, is set to air early next year on NBC. And the actor playing the liberal Senator is Barbra Streisand's stepson.

4. Media Prognosticator Scorecard
The scoring for CyberAlert's third bi-annual "Media Pundit Prognostications," a rundown of predictions for Senate and gubernatorial races as espoused by members of the media. Kudos to Michael Barone, derision for Mark Shields.

Washington Post Labels GOP Senate Chairmen,
Not Democratic Ones

Warning, warning, the new Republican Senate will be governed by conservatives in contrast to the non-ideological Democrats who are now running the committees.

In offering short bios last week of 13 Republicans Senators slated to become committee chairmen, The Washington Post applied ideological labels to 11, with nine of the 11 getting tagged with a conservative label. But 17 months earlier, when the defection by Senator Jeffords put Democrats in control of the chamber, the Washington Post page of profiles of the newly elevated Democratic chairmen not only labeled just one Democrat as a liberal, it managed to apply conservative tags to two outgoing Republican chairmen.

On page A-36 of the November 7 Post, two days after the election, the paper dedicated most of a page to two-to-four paragraph bios of 13 incoming committee chairmen.

The unbylined bios described Senator Pete Domenici as a "fiscal conservative," Senator Orrin Hatch as "a staunch conservative," Senator Don Nickles as "a conservative," Senator James Inhofe as "among the most conservative Senators," Senator John Warner as "a conservative but not an ideologue," Senator Charles Grassley as "a conservative with an independent streak," identically tagged Senator Richard Shelby as "a conservative with an independent streak," labeled Senator Judd Gregg as "more conservative than most New England Senators," and asserted that Senator Thad Cochran has "a conservative record."

The four Senators who escaped being tagged as conservative: Incoming Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens who was dubbed "a moderate on some issues, such as abortion," incoming Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins, who was labeled "a political moderate" and two Senators who went unlabeled ideologically in any way, Senator John McCain with the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senator Richard Lugar of the Foreign Relations Committee.

In late May of 2001, the Post considered only Senator Paul Sarbanes to be liberal as the paper failed to apply a liberal tag to Senators Carl Levin, Joe Biden, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy or Patrick Leahy -- all Senators considered pretty liberal outside of the Post building. The Post, however, at the time pointed out how outgoing Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm was "a conservative Republican" and identified outgoing Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms as "a strong conservative." Plus, the paper referred to the efforts of incoming Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who went unlabeled, to "constrain the ability of the Bush administration to win approval of very conservative judges."

Below is a committee-by-committee contrast in how the Post described Republican Senate Chairmen on November 7, 2002 with how the paper identified Democratic Committee Chairmen on May 27, 2001. The 2001 mini-bios, obtained via Nexis, each carried bylines and were written by Dan Morgan, Thomas Ricks, Kathleen Day, Paul Blustein, Peter Behr, Eric Pianin, Glenn Kessler, Alan Sipes, Ceci Connoly, Vernon Loeb and Thomas Edsall. The 2001 quotes are excerpts from the mini-bios to illustrate how the Senators were described in the portion of the bio where a label could have been applied.

Each of the excerpts of the 2002 bios is followed by a link to the full bio online. The labels are in ALL CAPS:

> Energy Committee: "Domenici, 70, is A FISCAL CONSERVATIVE but votes with moderates on many other issues. He generally sides with other Westerners on resource issues and has been a vigorous advocate for nuclear power and New Mexico's Sandia and Los Alamos research laboratories." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20611-2002Nov6.html

2001: "Now the committee will be under Jeff Bingaman's gavel, and the New Mexico Democrat says he's going to tackle energy issues in separate, smaller packages and on a slower timetable -- the same approach the House is following."

> Judiciary Committee: "A STAUNCH CONSERVATIVE, Hatch nevertheless has teamed up with Democrats on health and other issues. In recent years, he has taken up song-writing, including rock and rap as well as religious music." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20619-2002Nov6.html

2001: "Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who is expected to assume the chair of the committee, has made it clear he would restore the role of the American Bar Association in evaluating prospective judges. He would also require approval from both of a judicial nominee's home-state senators before taking up the nomination, a requirement that would significantly constrain the ability of the Bush administration to win approval of VERY CONSERVATIVE judges."

> Agriculture Committee: "Cochran, 65, has A CONSERVATIVE RECORD on most issues but lacks the ideological or confrontational edge of some of his younger colleagues." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20609-2002Nov6.html

2001: "Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the likely new chairman, will have the task of steering a new farm bill through Congress; the current one expires next year. But congressional sources say the final product may look pretty much as it would if Republican Richard G. Lugar (Ind.) were still wielding the gavel. Harkin and Lugar have worked together closely on a committee that is known for bipartisan comity."

> Budget Committee: "Assuming that Sen. Pete V. Domenici opts to take over the energy committee, the budget chairmanship is likely to go to Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), A CONSERVATIVE with an amiable personality and a powerful distaste for taxes, spending and governmental expansion." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20624-2002Nov6.html

2001: "The Budget Committee has discharged its main responsibility for this year -- drafting the annual budget resolution, which sets guidelines and ceilings for the appropriations bills that Congress must pass later in the session. But procedures governing the budget process expire next year, and new chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) can use his power to shape the rules....'Having Kent Conrad in charge will lead to a very different result than if the Republicans have control, because the committee won't be trying to do things that guarantee tax cuts,' said Stanley Collender, a budget expert with Fleishman-Hillard, a public affairs firm."

> Environment & Public Works Committee: "Few committees will undergo a bigger change at the top than this committee when the chairmanship shifts from Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.), who is highly regarded by environmentalists, to James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of their least favorite senators. Inhofe, 67, a former mayor of Tulsa, served four terms in the House before winning election to the Senate in the 1994 GOP landslide. He is AMONG THE MOST CONSERVATIVE SENATORS and a strong advocate of policies to shore up the oil industry." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20620-2002Nov6.html

2001: "As if bolting the GOP wasn't bad enough, Jeffords, who is in line to assume the chairmanship of the environment committee, has championed an agenda that is likely to put him at odds with the White House over key environmental issues. Jeffords has opposed drilling for oil in Alaska's wildlife refuge, part of Bush's energy plan. He also differs with the administration over global warming and the importance of reducing carbon dioxide emissions -- a chief cause of the Earth's rising temperature -- from coal-fired power plants."

> Armed Services Committee: "A CONSERVATIVE BUT NOT AN IDEOLOGUE, Warner has taken an independent path on some issues, such as gun control, and often works with Democrats such as Levin. He refused to support Oliver North, of Iran-contra fame, when North ran for Virginia's other Senate seat in 1994, prompting conservatives to try -- unsuccessfully -- to block his renomination bid in 1996." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20627-2002Nov6.html

2001: "Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who is taking over the committee from John W. Warner (R-Va.), brings skepticism to key Bush administration initiatives, such as building missile defenses and increasing Pentagon spending."

> Finance Committee: "Grassley is A CONSERVATIVE WITH AN INDEPENDENT STREAK who has repeatedly taken on the Pentagon on spending and other issues." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20612-2002Nov6.html

2001: "Max Baucus (Mont.) angered many in his party by working closely with his GOP counterpart, Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), on Bush's tax cut plan. He emphasized repeatedly that he was working in the traditional spirit of bipartisanship on the powerful panel, which he said would continue when he becomes chairman."

> Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee: "Although he is MORE CONSERVATIVE than most New England senators, Gregg, 55, has more of a pragmatic bent than some of his more ideological GOP colleagues. He works with Democrats, including Kennedy, on key issues such as education, pensions and the environment." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20618-2002Nov6.html

2001: "Fellow New Englanders Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Jeffords share many of the same policy goals, but they frequently saw their legislative efforts die at the hands of GOP congressional leaders and, more recently, the Bush White House.
"As a result, the most significant change for this committee may be the fresh opportunity to move progressive health care legislation to the Senate floor. 'This will be a more extensive, more expansive agenda,' Kennedy said in an interview Friday as he ticked off a long list of bills he plans to present to the full Senate."

> Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee: "Shelby, 68, is A CONSERVATIVE WITH AN INDEPENDENT STREAK, especially on intelligence matters. On the banking panel, he has called for loosening federal regulations that he regards as burdensome to business." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20625-2002Nov6.html

2001: "Paul S. Sarbanes, A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT from Maryland, likely will move up to chairman and is expected to bring a more open, inclusive style to the panel than that favored by his CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN counterpart, Phil Gramm of Texas. Unlike Gramm, Sarbanes is eager to bolster consumer and investor protections, including those intended to guard financial privacy and prevent abusive mortgage-lending practices."

It's amazing how blind to ideology reporters can be when it matches their own worldview and how apparent ideology is when it conflicts with their views.

An ADA Rating of 92% Makes You a "Centrist"?

If you veer one iota from the liberal agenda many journalists will consider you to be a centrist or even a conservative. A good example of this phenomenon occurred in a November 7 Washington Post rundown of the newly-elected Governors. Though he earned solidly liberal voting ratings during his years in Congress, the Post ludicrously described Maine's new Democratic Governor, John E. Baldacci, as "a centrist back-bencher in Congress" who "is known as something of a conservative within the Democratic Party."

As former MRCer Tim Graham pointed out to me, Baldacci earned a mere 8 percent rating from the American Conservative Union through 2001 for his congressional votes during his first seven years in the House. See: http://www.acuratings.com/acu_doc.cgi?ACT=3&STATE=ME&YEAR=2001

And over his congressional career, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action approved of a very healthy 92 percent of his votes. See: http://adaction.org/ho00021.htm

(Fellow Mainer Olympia Snow comes a lot closer to being a centrist. ACU gave her a 60 percent rating for her Senate years and the ADA awarded her a 42 percent rating for her earlier House tenure.)

The unbylined November 7 Post bio on page A-40 asserted:
"Baldacci, 47, was known as a centrist back-bencher in Congress, who fought hard for Maine's fishery and farming interests. But he rarely emerged as a national figure. He was born in Bangor, where his family runs Momma Baldacci's, an Italian restaurant started by his grandparents in the 1930s.
"He is known as something of a conservative within the Democratic Party, supporting the death penalty. But he also has earned fairly high marks from labor and environmental groups. He has insisted that centrism is the only way to prosper in a state that long trended Republican. He will take a $70,000 pay cut from his congressional salary when he assumes the governor's job."

That's online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20554-2002Nov6.html

New NBC Political Drama to Star
Streisand's Stepson

Update. And the answer is: It will be on NBC and it stars the son of Barbra Streisand's husband, her stepson.

The November 11 CyberAlert noted that NBC has a prime time drama about the White House titled The West Wing, though it's been dubbed "The Left Wing," and we may soon be referring to a new prime time drama about a U.S. Senator and his staff as "The Left Hill" or "The Left Chamber." CNN's Bill Schneider on Friday gave a glimpse at a new show in which the model for one star is Paul Wellstone and for another is Nancy Pelosi.

The CyberAlert item relayed that Schneider did not say on what network the show created by Lawrence O'Donnell would air.

Alert CyberAlert reader Ron Rounds of San Francisco, who appears to be a bit more adept than me at running a Google search, tracked down a couple of articles about the new drama.

The November 7 Roll Call reported on "Mr. Sterling" in its "Around the Hill" column. An excerpt of the story by Bree Hocking:

....With the Capitol now awaiting the arrival of its latest class of neophytes, what better way to mark the occasion than with a visit from the show. The cast and crew of "Mister Sterling" will be in D.C. beginning today to film exterior scenes for the show.

"Mister Sterling" follows the trajectory of an independent-minded, young political scion, appointed to fill the seat of a deceased Senator, as he maneuvers his way through the labyrinthine corridors of power.

The one-hour drama produced by Universal Network Television is scheduled to air midseason on NBC -- most likely in late January or February, though the date could be pushed back to early March, according to Lesley Barricella, senior publicist for Universal Network Television.

The show features Josh Brolin (stepson of Democratic activist and Hollywood diva Barbra Streisand) as Bill Sterling, the dashing former prison teacher turned Senator; Broadway star and three-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald as tough-talking staffer Jackie Brock; and William Russ (formerly of "Boy Meets World") as Tommy Doyle, the Senator's passionately partisan legislative director....

"Mister Sterling" is the brainchild of Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC senior political analyst, McLaughlin Group panelist and veteran of the highly rated political drama "The West Wing." Recreating the battles on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue should be right up executive producer O'Donnell's alley. Prior to his television and media career, O'Donnell served as a senior adviser to then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and was chief of staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee....

The Washington filming date should bring back fond memories for co-executive producer Jim Hart. After all, the Hart Senate Office Building is named after his father, Sen. Philip Hart (D-Mich.), who served in the world's most exclusive club from 1959 to 1976.

END of Excerpt

The story is no longer online.

An actress on the show has posted a picture of the cast at: http://www.chandrawest.net/mistersterling.htm

For a picture Josh Brolin with a rundown of his past movie roles, see: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Brolin,+Josh

For a bio of Audra McDonald, sans picture http://us.imdb.com/Name?McDonald,+Audra

Brolin told CNN's Schneider that Paul Wellstone is the model for his character and McDonald gushed to Schneider about how she sees Nancy Pelosi as her model, though she plays a press secretary. For the full quotes, refer to the Nov. 11 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021111.asp#6

So, while the public has chosen to put Republicans in charge of the White House and Senate, NBC has decided to have liberal Democrats run those branches.

Media Prognosticator Scorecard

The scoring for CyberAlert's third bi-annual "Media Pundit Prognostications," a rundown of predictions for Senate and gubernatorial races as espoused by members of the media, not political operatives, on television shows in the days before the November 5 vote.

The predictions were collected by MRC analysts Geoffrey Dickens, Patrick Gregory and Brad Wilmouth.

Those who made the predictions and on what shows:

-- McLaughlin Group from the past weekend: Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, Michael Barone of U.S. News, Washington Times Editorial Page Editor Tony Blankley and host John McLaughlin.

-- CNN's Capital Gang, November 2: Columnist Robert Novak, columnist Mark Shields, Time reporter/columnist Margaret Carlson, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt and USA Today reporter Susan Page.

-- NBC's Meet the Press, November 3: Washington Post reporter/columnist David Broder, Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein and NBC News reporter Lisa Myers.

-- FNC's Beltway Boys, November 2: The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes and Roll Call's Morton Kondracke.

-- Fox News Sunday, November 3: NPR's Juan Williams (only one who made solid predictions)

-- MSNBC's Nachman, November 4: Newsweek reporter and NBC News analyst Jonathan Alter.

-- MSNBC's Donahue, November 4: MSNBC host Chris Matthews.

All the above were the sources of all the predictions listed in the November 5 CyberAlert. Below, I've added what Bill O'Reilly predicted on the November 4 O'Reilly Factor. Not everyone on each show made predictions for every race, thus you'll see different sets of names for each race.

Other than O'Reilly, below is the same rundown of predictions listed in the November 5 CyberAlert and I've simply inserted CORRECT and WRONG by the winners and losers at the ballot box, at least as results now stand:


Hutchinson (R): toast
CORRECT. Pryor (D): Novak, Page, Carlson, Hunt, Shields, Barone, Kondracke, Barnes, Myers, Brownstein, O'Reilly

CORRECT. Allard (R): Barone, Kondracke, Barnes
WRONG. Strickland (D): Alter, Clift, Blankley, McLaughlin, Broder, Brownstein, Myers, O'Reilly

CORRECT. Chambliss (R): Myers
WRONG. Cleland (D): Broder, Brownstein

CORRECT. Coleman (R): Novak, Barone
WRONG. Mondale (D): Alter, Page, Carlson, Hunt, Shields, Kondracke, Barnes, Broder, Brownstein, Myers, Williams, Matthews, O'Reilly

CORRECT. Talent (R): Alter, Barone, Clift, Blankley, McLaughlin, Hunt, Novak, Page, Carlson, Kondracke, Barnes, Broder, Brownstein, Talent, Myers, O'Reilly
WRONG. Carnahan (D): Shields

New Hampshire:
CORRECT. Sununu (R): Blankley, Novak, Kondracke, Barnes, O'Reilly
WRONG. Shaheen (D): Alter, Barone, Clift, McLaughlin, Page, Carlson, Hunt, Shields

North Carolina:
CORRECT. Dole (R): Alter, Brownstein, Myers, Matthews, O'Reilly
WRONG. Bowles (D): Williams

South Dakota:
WRONG. Thune (R): Barone, Blankley, McLaughlin, Novak, Barnes, Brownstein, O'Reilly
CORRECT. Johnson (D): Clift, Carlson, Hunt, Shields, Page, Kondracke, Broder, Myers, Williams

CORRECT. Cornyn (R): Alter, Broder, Myers
Kirk (D): toast


CORRECT. Bush (R): Carlson, Hunt, Novak, Page, Barone, Clift, Blankley, McLaughlin, Barnes, Kondracke, Myers, Matthews, O'Reilly
WRONG. McBride (D): Shields

CORRECT. Ehrlich (R): Novak, Carlson, Kondracke, Barnes, Brownstein, Matthews, O'Reilly
WRONG. Townsend (D): Shields, Hunt

CORRECT. Romney (R): Shields, Novak, O'Reilly
WRONG. O'Brien (D): Hunt, Page, Carlson

CORRECT. Pawlenty (R): Carlson, Hunt, Novak
WRONG. Moe (D): Page, Shields

Now, some overall shift predictions:

-- Novak: Net gain of 1 seat for Republicans VERY CLOSE
-- Page: Net gain of 2 seats for Democrats WRONG
-- Carlson: Net gain of 2 seats for Democrats WRONG
-- Hunt: Net gain of 1 seat for Democrats WRONG
-- Shields: Net gain of 3 seats for Democrats VERY WRONG
-- Barone: Republicans win control by 1 PRETTY CLOSE
-- Clift: Democrats hang on and could add 1 or 2 seats WRONG
-- McLaughlin: Republicans win control of Senate CORRECT
-- Barnes and Kondracke: Republicans gain one, Senate at 50-50 CLOSE

-- Novak: Net gain of 4 for Republicans
-- Page: Net gain of 1 for Republicans
-- Carlson: Net gain of 5 for Republicans
-- Hunt: Net gain of 2 for Republicans
-- Shields: Net gain of 2 for Democrats
-- Barnes: Net gain of 2 for Republicans
-- Kondracke: Net gain of 2 for Republicans

-- Page: Net gain of 7 for Democrats
-- Shields: Net gain of 6 for Democrats
-- Hunt: Net gain of 5 for Democrats
-- Carlson: Net gain of 4 for Democrats CLOSE
-- Novak: Net gain of 4 for Democrats CLOSE
-- Barnes: Net gain of 6 for Democrats
-- Kondracke: Net gain of 6 for Democrats

• Specific race predictions on CNN's Capital Gang:
-- Margaret Carlson: In Iowa, Democrat Ann Hutchinson beats Republican Jim Nussle for House seat. WRONG

-- Al Hunt: In New York, Democrat Tim Bishop beats Republican Felix Grucci for House seat. CORRECT

In Kentucky, Democrat Jack Conway beats Ann Northrup for House seat. WRONG

-- Susan Page: In West Virginia, Democrat Jim Humphries beats Republican Shelly Moore Capito for House seat. WRONG. Not even close. Capito won 60-40.

> Without everyone making predictions in the same races, it's impossible to score, but Michael Barone earns commendation for uniquely correctly picking both Allard in Colorado and Coleman in Minnesota while Mark Shields deserves ridicule for insisting both McBride and Carnahan would win and that Democrats would make a net gain of three Senate seats.

On the Senate I'd note that the conservative analysts were closest to the reality of the GOP's two seat net gain (Novak, Barone, Kondracke and Barnes all saw the GOP gaining control), but mainstream media reporters, aka liberals, all forecast Democratic gains (Clift, Page, Carlson, Hunt and Shields). -- Brent Baker

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