1) Bad news is
news, not good news. Right? Not at ABC when the good news benefits
On October 6,
1994 the Census Bureau reported poverty had risen to a three-decade high.
ABC's World News Tonight: No story. On October 5, 1995 the bureau reported
a slight drop in poverty, but the gap between richest and poorest grew.
ABC's World News Tonight: No story.
On September 26,
1996 the Census bureau reports median income up and poverty down. ABC's
World News Tonight: Big story crediting Bill Clinton.
opened the show Thursday night: "On World News Tonight this Thursday,
a bloody day between Israelis and Palestinians. The Census Bureau says
that Americans are earning more for the first time in six years. Family
income is up."
reported in his story that median household income was up 2.7 percent, but
still lower than 1989. Serafin's story continued:
"The number of Americans living in poverty fell. There were 36.4
million people below the poverty level, 1.6 million fewer than the year
before. The poverty rate for African-Americans dropped to its lowest level
since 1959, 29.3 percent. What does it add up to?"
Professor Frank Levy, MIT: "Things are slowly getting better and the
people feel OK about it. It's not nirvana, but it's certainly not doom and
Serafin: "And there was certainly no gloom and doom at the White
House where the President pounced on the new figures." Clinton:
"The news is remarkably good, and I'd like to share it with
Serafin: "Citing the income gains the President declared that the
country is on the right track. He heralded progress on narrowing the gap
between the richest and poorest Americans"
Clinton: "We have had the largest decline in the inequality of
incomes in America in 27 years."
Serafin: "Census Bureau officials, however, said that decline was so
small it was statistically insignificant. Still, there was praise for
today's generally upbeat report."
Levy: "Well I think the credit is shared between the President and
Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve."
Serafin: "All in all the new numbers added to a very good day for
The New York
Times reported June 30 that "the share of national income earned by
the top 5 percent of households grew at a faster rate than during the
eight years of the Reagan administration, which was often characterized as
favoring the rich." ABC's World News Tonight that night: No story.
following Serafain, Jim Wooten reported on Bob Dole in Florida. Wooten
noted that Dole correctly pointed out that poverty rose in Florida, then
reported: "Still, the Senator had much less to say about the numbers
than about a President he says is lying to older Americans, telling them
Republicans will cut Medicare, trying to frighten them into voting
Following a Dole soundbite, Wooten continued: "Then Senator Dole
tried to raise a bit of fear himself about Mr. Clinton's plans for a
Dole: "He'll raise taxes again on the America people if he's
re-elected." Wooten: "The Senator insists that his principle
campaign themes - his bad news message about a limping economy, stagnate
wages, high taxes and heavy deficits - will eventually change the shape
of this election. So far they haven't, but he keeps trying."
They might have a
better chance if ABC weren't endorsing Clinton's claims while countering
Dole's by saying he's also employing fear.