Media Reality Check

As far as we know, nobody has ever fingered Jane Clayson as a rocket scientist, but it turns out the co-host of CBS's The Early Show could teach the Peabody Award-winning PBS documentarian Bill Moyers a thing or two about fair and balanced journalism. Last night, PBS aired Moyers's ninety-minute screed, Trade Secrets , which claimed that children and others are imperiled by a reckless chemical industry. But while the show extensively quoted anti-business activists from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Citizen Action, Moyers refused to include the views of any representative from the very industry whose reputation he... continue reading
In last week's Newsweek (the March 19 issue), Jonathan Alter explained that, to advance his campaign regulation bill, John McCain's strategy was "to trade on his rock-star status (and wartime heroics)," and that "to do so, he needs his old allies in the press. " It appears that the media got the memo. Last night, all three broadcast networks aided McCain's push for tighter restrictions on individual contributions and the activities of independent groups, moves which would give the media even greater campaign clout. On the Evening News , CBS's Bob Schieffer openly worried that the so-called reform bill might... continue reading
Five years ago, Dan Rather told the Los Angeles Times "you can sooner expect a tall talking broccoli stick to offer to mow your lawn for free" than expect to find him still in the anchor chair after the year 2000. But he's still there, and on Friday, two full decades will have passed since the idiosyncratic Rather succeeded Walter Cronkite as anchor of the CBS Evening News , now the nation's third-rated evening newscast. To mark the occasion, this special 2-page Media Reality Check documents a few of the many liberal outbursts that have animated Rather's tenure: Republicans favor... continue reading
The networks gave President Bush high marks for his capable delivery of last night's budget address, but when it was over reporters continued to press the point that his tax and budget proposals are either controversial or misguided - despite two polls released this morning showing broad support for Bush's policies. On this morning's Today , NBC's Matt Lauer seemed horrified that taxpayers could get too much of their own money back. Lauer demanded of Trent Lott: " As the leader of the Senate, will you guarantee that that tax cut does not grow larger? " After Lott said the... continue reading
Try as they do to keep their noses clean, bad things just keep happening to Bill and Hillary Clinton - at least according to some media figures' version of the umpteenth Clinton scandal. Now it's revelations that Hillary's brother, Hugh Rodham, temporarily pocketed at least $400,000 for the President's pardon of a convicted swindler and the early prison release of a drug felon. Hugh never pardoned anyone, of course, but in the media's eyes, the paid lobbyist is the wrongdoer while the oath-taking government official is the hapless victim. " More trouble for the Clintons ," NBC's Matt Lauer intoned... continue reading
Like nearsighted umpires who don't find their eyeglasses until after the game is over and the cheating team has hauled their trophies (and a truckload of furniture) up to Chappaqua, liberal journalists have finally found the Clinton scandal beat. "It's not the usual critics who make this Clinton scandal different; it's the usual supporters," CBS's Jim Axelrod noted during Monday's Evening News . He meant Democrats like New York Senator Charles Schumer, who bravely condemned as "wrong, wrong, wrong" the now-powerless former President's pardon of an anti-American billionaire fraudster whose ex-wife gave more money to the DNC than even some... continue reading
If it's conservative, it must be controversial - at least according to the big broadcast networks. Antonio Mora, who reads the news briefs on ABC's Good Morning America , distilled the anti-tax cut spin perfectly on Monday, claiming "President Bush is launching a major public relations campaign today [Monday]. He's trying to sell his massive and controversial tax cut to American taxpayers." Hardly. The public already likes tax cuts. A late January report from Gallup showed that 74% of the public favors "a cut in federal income taxes" and that "over 70% of the public has favored a generic tax... continue reading
The Washington Post reported this morning that "a woman with whom Jesse L. Jackson fathered a child during an extramarital affair had approval to use funds from one of Jackson's tax-exempt charitable organizations to buy a house in Los Angeles , according to correspondence confirmed by a Jackson aide today." The story, by Post staff writer William Claiborne, appeared on page A3 of this morning's edition, and was therefore available to all of the broadcast networks as they planned their morning news programs. But not a single network morning show offered viewers even a hint of this new twist in... continue reading
Eight years ago, all three of the broadcast evening news anchors gushed that Bill Clinton was proving his trust-worthiness when he revoked Ronald Reagan's anti-abortion executive orders. But when new President George W. Bush reversed Clinton yesterday, the networks attacked him for provoking "controversy" by "taking a tough line" on abortion. While all three networks refused to cast Clinton's pro-abortion move as ideological, Bush's order was portrayed as a payoff to "conservatives" or his "right flank." - On ABC, Peter Jennings claimed that " President Bush begins by taking a tough line on abortion. " White House reporter Terry Moran... continue reading
When Jesse Jackson released a statement today acknowledging he had fathered a 20-month-old girl out of wedlock with Rainbow Coalition employee Karin Stanford, ABC's Good Morning America had no condemnation of his behavior. Instead, they worried about the political consequences, how Jackson's stepping out of the public eye would hurt the liberals. Diane Sawyer asked: "This was going to be a weekend in which Jesse Jackson was very visible both in Florida, protesting the election there, and of course on the Ashcroft nomination. What are the consequences?" George Stephanopoulos reassured Sawyer that his withdrawal won't "have a dramatic effect on... continue reading