clarification and a correction of two topics from MRC CyberAlerts from
October 8 CyberAlert reported that on Monday night (October 7) ABC's World
News Tonight and the CBS Evening News ran fact check stories on the
Dole-Clinton debate. In fact, CBS Evening News did, but ABC's piece aired
on Good Morning America, not World News Tonight. In addition, CNN's Brooks
Jackson did a fact check piece for Inside Politics.
October 11 CyberAlert noted that unlike in 1992, this year neither ABC's
World News Tonight or CNN's Inside Politics ran fact checking stories on
the VP debate. That's correct, but MRC analyst Gene Eliasen pointed out to
me that ABC's Good Morning America did run one Thursday morning.
ABC reporter Jack
Smith asserted: "Both men indicated that taxes are too high, right?
But federal taxes as a portion of household income are actually lower now
than they were 15 years ago. Kemp made this assertion."
Jack Kemp: "Every time in this century we've lowered the tax rates
across the board revenues went up, not down."
Smith: "Wrong again. The last time this was tried, in 1981, real
income tax revenues fell three years in a row and drove up the
Following the 1982 recession, income tax revenue grew consistently. As
Norman Ture pointed out in Ed Rubenstein's book The Right Data, "With
the recovery beginning in late 1982, budget receipts expanded rapidly, on
the average by slightly over 8 percent a year, through fiscal 1990."
2) On Friday, a
study appearing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was
It showed that
abortion is responsible for 5,000 cases of breast cancer each year. ABC's
Peter Jennings Friday night (October 11) delivered not a news report but a
"There was a study released at Penn State University today that you
may hear a lot about this weekend. It purports to show a connection
between women who have had abortions and the risk of developing breast
cancer. And if you see it around, remember this. It is not original
research, but an analysis of 23 earlier studies. And the National Cancer
Institute says those individual studies were actually inconclusive, and
because of that, various other scientists say today the Penn State report
Jennings did not
have to worry: While on CNN's The World Today Jeff Levine provided a full
report about the study and its critics, neither CBS Evening News or NBC
Nightly News even mentioned the study.
3) CBS has
turned a self-serving Clinton anecdote into a prime time movie.
exchange from Friday's Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder:
Les Moonves, CBS
entertainment division President: "The President did actually pitch
me a movie of the week idea which we ended up shooting....It's unusual
when the President of the United States pitches you, actually a wonderful
movie of the week."
Tom Snyder: "What was it, a young guy from Arkansas becomes
Moonves: "No, it was about the Family and Medical Leave Act, a true
story that he was involved in where a young girl had visited the White
House. He'd come back from his morning jog, and this 13 year old girl was
there in a wheelchair. The President went over to her and she evidently
was dying of leukemia and the father went over to him and thanked the
President for having passed the Family and Medical Leave Act so he could
be with his daughter. She was going to die, but at least he could say
good-bye. As the President pitched it, I mean, he had tears in his eyes,
legitimately. It was very moving. We ended up shooting the movie starring
John Ritter as the father and the President appears in it as
Snyder: "You will stop at nothing."
Moonves: "I will. I'm shameless for ratings, what can I tell you. But
we're not allowed to show it until after the elections."
To get to the
truth of the anecdote, do we divide by six or by two?
4) In the media
lexicon, anything about character or illegality is harsh and/or nasty.
Monday night (October 14) this is how David Bloom began his NBC Nightly
News story: "In his harshest, most personal attack yet on the
President, Bob Dole today charged that the Clinton Administration is
unethical, that Bill Clinton himself is slipping and sliding away from
questions about possible illegal campaign contributions."
The night before, on ABC's World News Sunday, anchor Carole Simpson asked:
"The candidates are back on the road, but will they take the high
road or the low road?"
Reporter John Donvan observed: "Did Bob Dole attack Bill Clinton in
harsh terms today? Yes he did. Plenty."
Dole: "Drug use has doubled because nothing has been done in this
administration. He's been AWOL. He's been AWOL before, but now he's really
been AWOL now."
Donvan: "But did Dole get personal, dig into the President's past,
stir up the mud of Whitewater and other issues of character? No, he isn't.
And despite being urged to do so by some members of his own party. Dole in
person is still taking the high road, hitting the President hard on his
record but not going after Clinton on his personal life and moral
character. Some in Dole's camp wish that he'd get nastier at this point
with polls delivering constant bad news to the campaign."
Following a clip
of Dole saying he's "thinking about" being tougher and a
soundbite from Jack Kemp, Donvan concluded his story: "Dole himself
continues to be the gentleman on the stump. That may make for a duller
campaign than some would like, and perhaps a losing one. But it lets the
candidate play out this possibly climatic moment in his career more like a
statesman, less like a nasty politician. John Donvan, ABC News, Hamilton
reporters want. Dole to lose while not damaging Clinton.