Media Reality Check

O ne of the most intriguing questions of the 1998 campaign will center on the partisans who flew the flag of Anita Hill en route to victory in 1992, the so-called "Year of the Woman." Will the same female politicians who defeated male Democrats in primaries or climbed the Capitol steps to challenge the clueless males who "didn't get it" about Hill's never-substantiated charges face the music in the Year of "That Woman"? Or will national and state reporters go easy? An early indicator of the media's continuing Hill blindness came in March, when Hill announced on Meet the Press... continue reading
I n most of the reporting recently on the economic troubles worldwide, something has been missing, namely any hint that there are economists who believe the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has made matters in Asia and Russia worse. Most stories simply ignore the role the IMF has played in the problems overseas, but even when stories acknowledge criticism, it isn't the criticism coming from conservatives. An example: Adam Zagorin in the August 31 Time . According to Zagorin, "Instead of simply delivering needed money, the fund has also been delivering ultimatums." While these changes may be necessary, "the focus on... continue reading
T he obviously missing angle in the journalistic aftermath of Clinton's "confession" is the victory of Ken Starr in extracting it. In this week's news magazines, Time 's "Winners and Losers" feature picked "No One" as the winner and then self-deprecatingly nominated the press. Newsweek 's "Conventional Wisdom Watch" left out Starr for a "Compartments of Bill Edition" which provided mostly down arrows for Clinton's performance. All three magazines did small features on "Boy Scout" Al Gore and new worries about an independent counsel on fundraising. Other highlights: U.S. News & World Report 's Stephen Budiansky summarized: "The only comforting... continue reading
O n the morning after President Clinton admitted he lied under oath and then to the public for seven months about an 18-month affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, the TV morning shows devoted most of their shows to last night's speech. While many interview questions reflected skepticism toward Clinton, the networks' polls all suggested the Starr investigation or impeachment hearings should be stopped or prevented. CBS's This Morning devoted its entire national air time to the Clinton speech. Every half hour, anchors noted the results of an overnight CBS/ New York Times poll that showed 58 percent were satisfied that... continue reading
S omething unprecedented happened on ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday: A correspondent questioned global-warming hysteria. Unfortunately, such basic skepticism was missing in every other report on climate change this week, as other network reporters continued to parrot Al Gore's warnings that the Earth is catastrophically warming. The sole dissenter from the party line was ABC News Science Editor Michael Guillen. "The earth does things in cycles," Guillen noted. "Everything from the 24-hour day-night cycle, to a woman's 28-day menstrual cycle, to the yearly seasonal cycle, what goes up must come down and what goes down must come up. And... continue reading
A ll three news magazines this week felt it impossible to keep Monicagate off the cover. But their approaches to coverage were quite different: Newsweek was the only one to run a transcript of Linda Tripp's press statement, and the only one to note Tripp said Lewinsky relayed her children would be "in danger" if she didn't change her Kathleen Willey story. Ex-Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos penned a commentary imploring the President to tell the truth before the grand jury, confess if necessary to the public, and then "he should vow never to discuss the matter again, and immediately return... continue reading
A s the month of July draws to a close, Rep. Dan Burton's House Government Reform and Oversight Committee is considering a contempt of Congress citation for Attorney General Janet Reno. She has failed to respond to a subpoena for memos urging her to appoint an independent counsel in the fundraising scandal. While the Monica Lewinsky story turns white-hot, the networks have continued to downplay or ignore new print scoops on the fundraising scandal: July 2: The Washington Post reported that then-DNC Chairman Don Fowler helped Johnny Chung set up a Treasury Department meeting for China Petrochemical Corporation. The New... continue reading
I t happened again. Vice President Al Gore held a press conference on July 14 to hype his favorite topic - global warming - and ABC and NBC snapped to attention. Both networks' evening news shows highlighted Gore's opinions without giving any time at all to Gore's critics. Of the big three nightly newscasts, only CBS Evening News refused to take the bait. On ABC's World News Tonight , correspondent Ned Potter told viewers that "many scientists, and some politicians as well, say something larger is happening. They say we are seeing early signs of global warming - the trapping... continue reading
M aria Shriver drew attention to her Tuesday morning Today interview of Hillary Clinton with a faux pas: she asked if they needed a cot in the Oval Office as the workaholic Thomas Edison had in his lab. But once again, the Today show awarded the First Lady whatever publicity she wanted with a 16-minute interview on Hillary's crusade to save national landmarks. Shriver also asked: "I know the way you prepare when you go out to tackle something. So no doubt you probably read everything ever written about Thomas Edison, and since we're here in his library, what's the... continue reading
I t comes as no surprise that Time magazine finds the President to be sexy. In the November 16, 1992 issue, then-Senior Writer Walter Shapiro saluted the appeal of the President-Elect: "At a moment when the American libido seems to oscillate between Puritanism and rampant exhibitionism, how significant is it that for the first time in 30 years the nation has elected a President with sex appeal?...Cheryl Russell, editor of The Boomer Report, a monthly newsletter on consumer trends, captures a new dimension in the national psyche when she confides, 'Every woman I know is having sex dreams about Bill... continue reading