Media Reality Check

- Does this sound balanced to you? Last week Al Gore trumpeted a leaked UN report on the alleged perils of global warming, so the CBS Evening News showed him pledging "to protect the environment with all my heart and soul." Balancing Gore on the October 26 newscast: Ralph Nader, the only other candidate who thinks global warming is a real threat requiring immediate government intervention in the free market. - "Al Gore is suffering from election year delusion if he thinks his record on the environment is anything to be proud of," Nader twitted from Gore's left. The only... continue reading
- Media shock at the rough New York GOP phone calls which linked Hillary Clinton's Hamas-boosting supporters with the terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole is one-sided. Is it beyond the pale to link terrorist bombings to the political record of our leaders? The surprise bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 was a tragedy media people easily exploited in an attempt to sully Ronald Reagan's reputation: - "In this hall tonight you'll hear nothing of Iran/Contra, or Meese, or Deaver, or Nofziger, or the tragedy in Beirut." - NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw, beginning a night of 1988 GOP... continue reading
- NBC's Claire Shipman marveled this morning at the effectiveness of Al Gore's misleading, fear-pushing, anti-free market Social Security TV spots. "Who would have thought it, Katie?" Shipman chirpily exulted to Today's Katie Couric. "[His aides] now believe that Florida could be the centerpiece of a Gore win. They think that's largely because of message: heavy on Social Security, heavy on ads on Social Security." - To let viewers know why she was so darned impressed, Shipman showed a clip of what she touted as a "very effective" ad: "So what happens when Bush promises the same money to young... continue reading
- NBC's Today interviewed Hillary Clinton on Monday and Rick Lazio today. But both New York Senate contenders were asked about outrage over Republican campaign messages. - Yesterday, Katie Couric began with a softball: "I know that you were outraged last week, Mrs. Clinton, about a telephone campaign by the New York Republican party that told voters you took money from quote, 'A Mideast organization, Mideast terrorism group, the same kind of terrorism that killed our sailors on the U.S.S. Cole.' That telephone campaign has ended, a GOP spokesman said, not because of your criticism that it was politicizing a... continue reading
- The NAACP ad suggesting George W. Bush "killed" James Byrd "all over again" over a Texas "hate crimes" bill is still being ignored by ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN's newscasts. But the same networks have shown interest in other liberal and conservative ads. - Last night, ABC, CBS, and NBC uncritically aired pieces of an ad from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). As NBC's Claire Shipman explained, "pro-choice organizations are spending big money for ads like these make the case that a vote for Nader could mean the end of a woman's right to choose."... continue reading
- In 1988 (and 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992), the media slammed George H. W. Bush for suggesting (or gaining from independent ads declaring) that Michael Dukakis released a convicted murderer on a furlough program who traveled to Maryland and raped a woman. Willie Horton became famous not for his crimes, but as a symbol of Republican nastiness and race-baiting. - But the media silence so far is deafening over the new ad campaign by the NAACP (see box). Over black and white video of a truck dragging a chain, James Byrd's daughter suggests George W. Bush killed her father... continue reading
- Everyone knows Election Day is only two weeks away, so it's dubious a politically inflammatory research study would simply appear on the media landscape by happenstance. This morning, ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today each put their spotlight on a new RAND Corporation study which criticized the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test for school-age children (the TAAS test). - The study didn't mention Bush or the presidential campaign, but NBC's David Gregory spun it as a crippling blow to the Republican's White House hopes. - "His record on improving education is what Governor Bush points to as... continue reading
- NBC's Saturday Night Live satirized all three presidential debates. This weekend, in poking fun at last Tuesday's town hall-style debate in St. Louis, the SNL writers noticed the obvious: that the "uncommitted" questioners selected by PBS anchor and moderator Jim Lehrer leaned to the left, and often echoed Al Gore talking points. - Up first in the SNL skit: a woman identified as "Lesley Doss." She asked: "Governor Bush, I've been following the campaign very closely but I need to know more about where the candidates stand on the issues I really care about: protecting a woman's right to... continue reading
- The media blackout of vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman's September 26 declaration of "respect" for anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and his desire to meet with him continued through Farrakhan's "Million Family March" on Monday. But in 1996, when GOP vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp reached out to Farrakhan, several outlets which are ignoring the Lieberman story played up the Kemp flap. - The Boston Globe . The story began with Globe reporter Michael Rezendes on September 8, 1996: "Jack Kemp, the self-styled Republican ambassador to minorities and the poor, believes Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's... continue reading
Some network stars loved last night's citizen questioners in the third presidential debate. (See box.) PBS anchor and moderator Jim Lehrer reported the questioners were "voters who were identified as being uncommitted by the Gallup organization." Lehrer chose which of the more than 100 people would ask questions. He did not note these voters might be undecided between Al Gore and Ralph Nader. Out of 15 questions from the "uncommitted," eight leaned to the left. ONE: "How do you feel about HMOs and insurance companies making the critical decisions that affect people's lives instead of the medical professionals? And why... continue reading