In This Issue
So Much for "Corporate Conservatives"; NewsBites: Eleanor's Address; Revolving Door: A Liberal Acquisition; "Moderates" vs. "Flamethrowers"; To CBS: "Republican" Starr...; Free the Cabbies; Who's Protecting Newt?; Janet Cooke Award: Hager's Early Campaign Commercial
So Much for "Corporate Conservatives"
The merger announcement of Disney and Capital Cities/ABC spurred liberal critics to warn of the negative effects of an impending media monopoly, where corporate-dominated news networks serve capitalism’s bottom line. But if the new corporate brass involved itself heavily in ABC’s news content, would the result be conservative bias?
A MediaWatch analysis of Federal Election Commission records from 1993 to the present suggests otherwise. The sample of major media figures we found donated five times as often and six times as much money to Democrats than they did Republicans in 1993-94. This year, the ratio of donations has shifted to 22-16, although the dollar total is still 2-1 Democrat. ABC’s new executives, more than other media bosses, devoted almost all their contributions to Democrats. Republicans are noted in italics; 1995 donations are in parentheses.
Cathleen P. Black, Newspaper Association of America and former publisher, USA Today:
Rep. Jack Brooks, $1000; Democratic congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), $5000; Sen. Ernest Hollings $300; Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $1250; (Rep. Markey, $500; Sen. Larry Pressler, $750; Women’s Campaign Fund, $1000).
Timothy Boggs, Vice President for Government Affairs, Time Warner: Rep. Howard Berman, $1000; Sen. Richard Bryan, $1000; Campaign America (Dole), $2000; Sen. John Chafee, $200; Sen. Dennis DeConcini, $1000; DCCC, $1000; Democratic National Committee (DNC), $10,000; Sen. Mike DeWine, $1000; Rep. John Dingell, $1000; Effective Government Committee (Gephardt), $5,000; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $1000; Rep. Jack Fields, $1000; Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, $1000; Rep. Steve Gundrson, $500; Sen. Tom Harkin, $1000; Tom Hecht for Congress, $250; Independent Action (Harkin), $1000; Patrick Kennedy for congress, $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $1000; Rep. Bob Matsui $1000; Sen. George Mitchell, $1000; National Republican Congressional Committee, $1000; Sen. Chuck Robb, $2000; Phil Schiliro for Congress, $500; Rep. Gerry Studds, $500; Ann Wynia for Senate, $1000; (Dole for President, $1000; Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Sen. Larry Pressler, $2000, Sen. John Kerry, $1000).
Reginald K. Brack Jr., Chairman, Time Inc.: Sen. Bob Packwood, $1000.
Bertram Carp, Vice President for Government Affairs, Turner Broadcasting: Sen. Jeff Bingaman, $500; Sen. Ted Kennedy, $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Sen. George Mitchell, $1000; Rep. Bill Richardson, $600; (Rep. Martin Frost, $250; Sen. John Kerry, $1000; Rep. Markey, $1000; Rep. Richardson, $1000).
Richard Cotton, Vice President, NBC: Rep. Jack Brooks, $500; Sen. Richard Bryan, $500; Rep. John Dingell, $1000; Rep. Peter Hoagland, $1000; Rep. Ed Markey, $1000; Phil Schiliro for Congress, $500; (Rep. Charles Schumer, $250; Rep. Jack Fields, $1000).
Michael Eisner, Chairman, Disney: Rep. Jim Cooper, $1000; Countdown to Majortiy, $1000; Sen. Dennis DeConcini, 41000; DNC, $2500; Rep. John Dingell, $1000; Effective Government
Committee, $1000; Rep. Vic Fazio, $500; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $2000; Rep. Tom Foley, $2000; Rep. Sam Gibbons, $1000; Rep. Jane Harman, $500; Rep. Joe Kennedy, $1000; Sen. Ted Kennedy, $1000; Sen. Bob Kerrey, $1500; Rep. Larry LaFocco, $1000; Sen. Frank Lautenberg, $1000; Sen. Joseph Lieberman, $500; Sen. Richard Lugar, $1250; Sen. George Mitchell, $1000; Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, $1000; Sen. Pat Moynihan, $1000; Sen. Chuck Robb, $1000; Rep. Lynn Schenk, $500; Rep. Ed Towns, $500; (Clinton-Gore ‘96, $1000; Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), $1000; Rep. Dick Gephardt, $1000; Sen. John Kerry, $1000; Rep. Carlos Moorhead, $1000; Sen. Larry Pressler, $1000; Pete Wilson for President, $1000).
Bob Faw, NBC reporter: Mike James for Senate, $250.
Martin Franks, Executive Vice President, CBS: Rep. Mike Andrews, $1000; Sen. Joe Biden, $1000; Rep. Sherrod Brown, $500; Sen. Richard Bryan, $1500; Sen. Conrad Burns, $1000; Sen. Kent Conrad, $1000; DCCC, $1000; Rep. Jack Fields, $1000; Rep. Tom Foley, $1000; Rep. Bart Gordon, $500; Rep. Steny Hoyer, $1000; Sen. Bob Kerrey, $1000; Sen. Patrick Leahy, $1000; Sen. Joe Lieberman, $1000; Sen. Trent Lott, $1000; Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Rep. Dave McCurdy, $500; Sen. George Mitchell, $1000; Bob Mitchell for Congress, $250; Rep. Jack Reed, $500; Republican Network to Elect Women, $500; Sen. Jim Sasser, $1000; Phil Schiliro for Congress, $250; Sen. Paul Simon, $500; Rep. David Skaggs, $250; Rep. Louise Slaughter, $500; Rep. Mike Synar, $250; Rep. Ron Wyden, $500; (Dole for President, $1000; Sen. Larry Pressler, $1000; New Republican Majority Fund, $1000).
Katharine Graham, Chairman, The Washington Post Company: Women’s Campaign Fund, $2000.
Mark MacCarthy, former ABC Vice President: Rep. Jim Cooper, $500; Rep. Peter Deutsch, $250; Rep. Mike Kreidler, $500; Sen. Bob Krueger, $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Rep. Mike Synar, $500.
Terence McGuirk, Executive Vice President, Turner Broadcasting: Rep. Jack Fields, $1000.
Thomas S. Murphy, Chairman, Capital Cities/ABC: Rep. John Dingell, $1000; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $1000; Rep. Jack Fields, $1000; Sen. Ernest Hollings, $1000; Sen. Trent Lott, $1000; Rep. Ed Markey, $1000; Sen. George Mitchell, 41000; Sen. Pat Moynihan, $1000; New York Republican county committee, $3000; (Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Sen. Larry Pressler, $1000; New York Republican County Committee, $1000).
Michael Ovitz, President, Disney: Rep. Howard Berman, $1000; Rep. Bob Carr, $1000; Rep. Jim cooper, 500; DNC, $15,000; DSCC, $3000; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $2000; Rep. Thomas Foley, $2000; Rep. Dick Gephardt, $2000; Rep. Jane Harman, $1000; Rep. Joseph Kennedy, $250; Sen Ted Kennedy, $1500; Sen. Bob Kerrey, $2000; Sen. Joseph Lieberman, $1000; Sen. George Mitchell $1000; Sen. Chuck Robb, $1000; Rep. Lynn Schenk, $500; Rep. Karen Shepherd, $500; Rep. Alan Wheat, $1000; (Sen. Paul Wellstone, $500; Rep. Dick Gephardt, $1000).
Jane Bryant Quinn, Newsweek columnist: Sue Kelly for Congress, $1000.
Sherrie Rollins, Vice President, ABC: Republican Network to Elect Women, $250.
Pierre Salinger, former reporter and bureau chief, ABC: Patrick Kennedy for congress, $700; Sen. Ted Kennedy. $1500.
Walter Shapiro, Time Contributor: Karen McCarthy for Congress, $1100.
Maria Shriver, NBC reporter: Patrick Kennedy, $1000; Sen. Ted Kennedy, $2000.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Chairman, New York Times Company: Rep. Amory Houghton, $500; Sen. Pat Moynihan, $1000; Senate Victory ‘94, $1000; (New York Republican County Committee, $1000).
Andrew Tobias, Time Contributor: Rep. Tom Andrews, $2000; DCCC, $1000; Tom Duane for Congress, $1000; Rep. Barney Frank, $1000; Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, $3700; Sen. Ted Kennedy, $750; Sen. Joseph Lieberman, $500; Charles Millard for Congress, $250; Sen. Chuck Robb, $250; Hermine Wiener for Congress, $500; (Rep. Carolyn Maloney, $250; DNC, $25,000; Sen. Ted Kennedy, $500, Rep. Gerry Studds, $250).
Ted Turner, Chairman, Turner Broadcasting: Rep. Buddy Darden, $500; Rep. Jack Fields, $500; Rep. John Lewis, $500; Rep. Ed Markey, $500; Sen. George Mitchell, $500; Rep. Carlos Moorhead, $500; Rep. Bill Richardson, $500; Rep. Mike Synar, $1500; (Rep. Bill Richardson, $1000; Clinton-Gore ‘96, $500).
Stephen Weiswasser, Vice President, ABC: Rep. John Dingell, $1000; Sen. Ernest Hollings, $1000; Sen. Trent Lott, $1000; Rep. Ed Markey, $1000; (Rep. Jack Fields, $500; Sen. Larry Pressler, $1000).
John F. Welch, Chairman, GE: Rep. Gerald Solomon, $1000.
Mark Willes, CEO, Times Mirror: Rep. Rod Grams, $1750; Mitt Romney for Senate, $500.
Robert C. Wright, President, NBC: Sen. Richard Bryan, $500; Rep. John Dingell, $1000; Rep. Ed Markey, $2000; Charles Millard for Congress, $1000; Rep. Chris Shays, $500; Rep. Alan Wheat, $1000; (Rep. Tom Bliley, $1000; Sen. Al D’Amato, $500; Rep. Jack Fields, $1000; Sen. Larry Pressler, $1000).
NewsBites: Eleanor's Address
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift spends her weekends promoting the Democrats in venues other than The McLaughlin Group. MediaWatch found Clift serving as keynote speaker at a September 9 women's conference held by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
Clift offered kind words for the White House: "They are doing many of the right things. They're just not, they're not giving it the right public relations....One friend of mine said the Clinton administration is rhetorically challenged. They don't know how to make their case. Clinton is a far better President that he gets credit for." Clift also gave advice. "The Democrats should not allow the right-wing Republicans to steal the issue of traditional values," Clift warned, claiming Clinton "is a moral leader for the country."
Clift warned of impending doom if Republicans have their way:"We are about to embark on a great experiment. If the Republican cuts go through you will see if this really does have an impact. You know the liberals have always said if you do this, you're gonna have this many more people homeless, this many more people in poverty. And then that will provoke a great backlash. Well, you might see that's going to happen."
Removing Clinton's Negatives.
A September 5 "news analysis" by USA Today reporter Richard Benedetto delighted in Clinton's performance in Hawaii during V-J Day events. Benedetto suggested Clinton's speeches "hardly seemed the words of a leader who has little respect for the military, wants to gut its budget and is unwilling to commit troops to battle, as many Clinton critics charge."
In an effort to take the draft-dodging issue off the '96 table, he claimed Clinton magically repaired his image with veterans: "Maybe the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II was a time when he came to the realization that his reluctance to answer his country's call to arms may have been a mistake, and those who answered without a second thought forgave him. How else do we explain aging World War II veterans, as giddy as children, jockeying to get their pictures taken with the President, and camouflaged young soldiers with shaven heads shouting out, `Four more years!'?"
Flacking Federal Food.
ABC's Michel McQueen focused the August 3 Nightline on school breakfast programs in two Rhode Island school districts. Central Falls takes advantage of federal funds and feeds a morning meal to all students regardless of need, while the Pawtucket school board refuses to serve breakfasts.
In disbelief that Pawtucket placed the same value on federal tax dollars as they did local tax dollars, McQueen exclaimed: "At Winter's elementary school in Pawtucket more than three quarters of the children come from families poor enough to qualify for subsidized lunches, but the school doesn't offer breakfast, even though the federal government would cover virtually all of the costs."
Pawtucket schools feed children breakfast through teachers' $2 weekly donations to charitable organizations as well as the school nurse's office. But McQueen asked the Central Falls superintendent: "Do you find it odd that a hungry child in Central Falls can come to school in the morning and get breakfast but a hungry child two miles from here cannot?" McQueen's compassionate campaign had Ted Koppel convinced: "But how can they at the same time sort of accept the notion that teachers are going to dig into their pockets and come up with 2 bucks a piece per week so that kids that are clearly hungry, not a question of these kids faking it. They need to eat just so that they can pay attention in class. They can't really believe that having the teachers do that is an adequate alternative."
McQueen missed the larger story right in front of her: the privatization over the past year of Rhode Island's school lunch program. As Stephen Glass pointed out in the Summer Policy Review, the move reduced federal subsidies by 48 percent with no loss in service. Most notably, an on-site inspection in Pawtucket found that the children were now eating better with a Marriott lunch and that "trays were `completely cleared of food.'"
Death by Capitalism.
"Welcome to the cruel world, Ivan Ivanovich," Moscow reporter Tom Fenton cooed to a newborn Russian in an August 22 CBS Evening News piece. "Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, life expectancy for Russian men has plummeted from 64 years old to age 57," implying the collapse of communism may be at fault. He then cautioned: "The traditional Russian vices of alcoholism, cigarette smoking, and poor diet have always cut short lives here, but even the post-communist collapse of the health care system and a booming murder rate do not fully explain such an alarming drop in life expectancy."
He conceded: "Scientists suspect that one answer may be decades of Soviet environmental abuse." But Fenton's premise is based upon unreliable Soviet-era statistics. He didn't consider the possibility that instead of things getting worse since the fall of communism, we may now be realizing just how bad conditions were for 80 years.
Notices of radical attorney William Kunstler's death portrayed him as a civil libertarian. On the September 5 Today, NBC anchor Matt Lauer announced: "Controversial attorney William Kunstler is being remembered today as a champion of the underdog and a defender of the Constitution." Reporter Pete Williams added: "He once explained his choice of unpopular clients by saying he wanted to keep the government from becoming too powerful." On the same day, Peter Jennings noted in his ABC Radio commentary that Kunstler "was respected for his belief in justice and his commitment to the rights of the defendant...Kunstler always represented the underdog, pitting the individual against the government, he said, keeping the state from becoming all-powerful." Jennings noted "what makes his life an important one" is "his belief in justice, because of his commitment to the constitutional right to a defense."
These tributes did not consider Kunstler's contempt for limited government and the legal system. In 1970, the newspaper Human Events noted Kunstler told students: "You must learn to fight in the streets, learn to revolt, learn to shoot guns...You may ultimately have to take that final step. You may ultimately be bathed in blood." In 1971, he declared: "We have to bring an end to the economic system in this country," adding about the legal system that "any criminal trial in this country is an oppression." In 1976, Kunstler said "Although I couldn't pull the trigger myself, I don't disagree with murder sometimes, especially political assassinations." In 1979, Kunstler told the Village Voice Joan Baez should not have criticized the communist government of Vietnam since he "would never join in a public denunciation of a socialist country."
Stained by Anti-Stalinism.
The admission of Stalinist athlete/entertainer Paul Robeson into the College Football Hall of Fame also drew tributes from the national media. On ABC's World News Sunday August 20, sports reporter Dick Schaap claimed: "McCarthyism stained the United States in the early 1950s, when the Hall of Fame was spawned. And Robeson, although never a member of the Communist Party, never hid his admiration for the Soviet Union....He won the Stalin Peace Prize and the bitter enmity of the red-baiting Right."
Associated Press reporter Nancy Armour wrote on August 25 that "Robeson fought for equal rights for blacks beginning in his Rutgers days, and developed a reputation as a left-wing liberal. When he refused to denounce communism or the Soviet Union, he was labeled a communist." Armour also reported a 1949 radiogram from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that read "We have no evidence that Paul Robeson was ever a communist."
The media ignored the 1949 testimony of Manning Johnson, who told Congress "during the time I was a member of the Communist Party, Paul Robeson was a member of the Communist Party." They also ignored what Time's Stefan Kanfer pointed out in 1989, that Robeson's "equal rights" ideology included the view that "Stalin's brutal purges were a proper way to deal with `counter-revolutionary assassins.' The pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany was excused as a `defensive act.'" When asked by Congress if he was a communist, Robeson testified: "Do you mean -- which, a party of communists or belonging to a party of people who have sacrificed for my people and for all Americans and workers, that they can live in dignity? Do you mean that party?"
NBC's Horton Obsession.
Reporters who complain of the eternal campaign never tire of re-running the seven-year-old Willie Horton ad. In Gwen Ifill's July 27 NBC Nightly News look at race in campaigns. She compared the ad about a convicted killer with George Wallace's stance on segregation: "An effective formula for winning elections. Once blatant, now more subtle." She also showed Jesse Helms's 1990 anti-quota campaign ad, and attacked both Republican ads for using "racial triggers." Ifill warned "as the 1996 presidential campaign begins, highly charged racial rhetoric is already defining the debate."
She talked to three liberal professors, including Sonia Jarvis, who warned "pay attention to what words are being used....That's the key to whether or not there's a real attempt to encourage the country to confront some very difficult issues." Ifill finished her thought: "Or a cynical attempt by campaigns and political consultants to exploit racial anger." The "divisive" words? "Quota," "crime," "welfare," and "immigration."
Ifill attempted to "balance" the Horton and Helms examples with one of Democrat race-baiting. But Ifill didn't discuss the ads run by the Democrats in 1994 against the black Republican candidate J.C. Watts, which employed an old photo of Watts sporting an enormous Afro. Ifill instead fired from the left, criticizing President Clinton for his 1992 campaign attack on rap singer Sister Souljah.
No Weaver Fever.
The Randy Weaver case would seem tailor-made for a media generally eager to report abuses by government agencies. Weaver was the focus of a two-week standoff with the U.S. Marshal Service over a weapons charge in August of 1992, resulting in the deaths of Weaver's unarmed wife, his son, and a U.S. marshal. Questions surrounding government conduct followed amid allegations of evidence tampering and "shoot on sight" rules of engagement, leading eventually to Weaver's acquittal, a multi-million dollar settlement from the FBI this August, and Senate hearings in September.
But through it all, the networks reported nothing beyond what the government told them it had done wrong. In the ten months between Weaver's surrender September 5, 1992 to the not-guilty verdict at his murder trial July 8, 1993, the only coverage was a John Gibson story on jury deliberations for the June 26 NBC Nightly News. CNN and NBC didn't even cover the July 8 verdict. An October 1993 Reason magazine article explained many of the federal improprieties that led to the disastrous results, but that failed to prompt any network attention.
In the 19 months from the July verdict to the suspensions handed out by FBI director Louis Freeh on January 6, 1995, the networks aired three evening or prime time news stories on the case: a Weaver interview with Tom Brokaw on Now and reports from NBC's Jim Miklaszewski and ABC's John Martin.
After January 6, another lull occurred, with only one anchor brief on Weaver until July 13, the day the Justice Department announced it would reopen the case after allegations of destruction of evidence. In all, there were only three pieces of enterprise journalism by the networks during the 37-month Weaver saga. So much for comforting the afflicted.
Revolving Door: A Liberal Acquisition
A few days after acquiring Capital Cities/ABC in August, Walt Disney Company Chairman Michael Eisner made Hollywood "super-agent" Michael Ovitz the President of the new expanded company as of October 1. In doing so, Eisner placed a dedicated Democratic fundraiser in charge of the ABC television network.
In December 1993, the Los Angeles Times reported that the founder of the Creative Artists Agency, "hosted and organized" a $1,000 to $2,500 per plate fundraiser for President Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. The event raised $450,000, the National Journal learned. A BPI Entertainment News Wire story noted that Ovitz "introduced the President by ticking off a list of recent accomplishments, including the passage of family leave legislation, the NAFTA trade agreement and the Brady bill for handgun control." He urged the celebrity crowd to give Clinton "the time he needs to build a consensus and to enact change."
Ovitz served as co-chair of the host committee which unsuccessfully tried to lure the 1996 Democratic convention to Los Angeles. A few months ago they chose Chicago.
Other than a contribution to former Senator Rudy Boschwitz, a GOP moderate, Ovitz donated only to Democrats, a review of FCC records since 1987 by TV, etc. discovered. In the 1993-94 cycle he turned over at least $36,000 to Democrats. Among those who've received $500 or $1,000 checks: Senators Howard Metzenbaum (Ohio), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Gary Hart (Colo.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Carl Levin (Mich.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Harris Wofford (Penn.), George Mitchell (Maine), John Kerry and Ted Kennedy (Mass.).
Beneficiaries in the House include: Pat Schroeder (Colo.), Mel Levine (Calif.), Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, former House Speaker Tom Foley and several liberal congressional candidates.
He also opened his checkbook for the 1988 Dukakis and Biden presidential campaigns, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($1,000 in 1989-90, $10,000 in 1991-92), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($2,500 in 1991-92, $3,000 in 1993-94) and $15,000 to the DNC in 1993-94.
Douglas Waller, Newsweek's defense reporter since 1988, has jumped to the competition. He's now covering the intelligence agencies for Time out of its D.C. bureau. A Legislative Assistant to Senator William Proxmire (D-Wis.) from 1985 to 1988, Waller previously was Legislative Director for liberal Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.)....
Another liberal Bay State Democrat, Senator John Kerry, has lost his Press Secretary to a national newspaper.
Alexandra Marks has return-ed to the Christian Science Monitor where she's now covering the UN. Before joining Kerry's staff Marks worked as a reporter for the Monitor Radio network and now-defunct Monitor TV channel.
From Peanuts to Piccadilly
Rex Granum, Deputy Press Secretary to President Jimmy Carter, has been named by ABC News as London Bureau Chief and Director of news coverage for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Back in 1992-93 Granum put in a stint as Washington Bureau Chief. Since 1986 Granum's worked in Atlanta as Southern Bureau Chief.
"Moderates" vs. "Flamethrowers"
Reporters greeted the retirement of Democratic Senator Bill Bradley with a round of hosannas. That included media nods that Bradley would be a good independent candidate for President since he's a "moderate." CNN political analyst Bill Schneider announced on the August 19 Inside Politics that "Bradley is one of an endangered species in American politics, a true moderate. In 1981, he voted for the Reagan budget, but against the big tax cuts. In 1986, he led the fight for tax reform, arguing that the tax system should not be used either to punish the rich or to reward the special interests."
Time reporter Laurence Barrett suggested on CNBC's Cal Thomas show August 23 that Bradley's "got the right profile -- he's sort of in the middle and he's got integrity." On September 2, Washington Post reporter Dale Russakoff wrote that "moderates in both parties -- including Bradley" shared former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean's distaste for partisan politics as usual.
But a look at Bradley's record tells a different story. As Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa noted in their 1994 Almanac of American Politics, other than his individual approach to taxes in the 1980s, "Bradley's record tends to be fairly liberal and partisan Democratic."
Indeed, Bradley's liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) rating was 85 in 1994, 90 percent in 1993. The American Conservative Union (ACU) rated him at 4 percent in 1994, 13 percent in 1993.
By this math, Republican Senators Bill Roth (1994 ACU: 68), Richard Shelby (55), Rick Santorum (81), and Kit Bond (83) should also be tagged "true moderates." In March the Post called Santorum (1994 ADA of 15) "a hard charging conservative flamethrower."
In the August 14 Time, Jeffrey Birnbaum analyzed the latest Ross Perot hoedown: "The Democrats can offer only a cacophony of views, ranging from the leftist tract of [Jesse] Jackson to the more centrist perspectives of House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle."
Birnbaum did not note that in 1994 Gephardt's ADA score was 80 percent, while he only scored a five on the ACU conservative scale. Daschle voted correctly 80 percent of the time in 1994 according to the ADA, but earned only a 4 percent rating from the ACU.
Labeling Jackson a "leftist" is very rare for Time. Laurence Barrett asserted on C-SPAN in July that "We use it ["left wing"] quite frequently to describe, say, Jesse Jackson and other members of the most liberal side of the Democratic party." The Nexis data retrieval system found 498 Jackson mentions in Time since January 1, 1984, but only nine with the term "left wing" associated with Jackson.
To CBS: "Republican" Starr...
CBS News has two standards in reporting: Republicans are partisan hacks while Democrats are public servants. They have regularly questioned Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr's integrity since his appointment. Anchor Dan Rather suggested impropriety on the August 12, 1994 CBS Evening News: "New disclosures are fueling questions about whether or not Starr is an ambitious Republican partisan backed by ideologically motivated anti-Clinton activists and judges from the Reagan, Bush, and Nixon years."
In the piece that followed, Eric Engberg fleshed out his convoluted conspiracy: "The way Starr got the job, which bears the footprints of every Republican President from Nixon to Bush, is also becoming a hot issue. Independent counsels are chosen by a panel of three federal appeals court judges. By law, the panel is selected by Chief Justice Rehnquist, a Nixon appointee to the Supreme Court named Chief Justice by President Reagan. Rehnquist chose Judge David Sentelle of the D.C. Court of Appeals, a Reagan appointee to head the three judge panel. Sentelle is from North Carolina, where he was an active worker in the Republican organization run by Senator Jesse Helms, who is among Clinton's fiercest critics. Sentelle owes his job on the federal bench to Helms, who urged the White House to appoint him."
When a federal judge tossed out Starr's tax fraud indictment of a Dem-ocrat on September 5, CBS failed to note the judge's name, Henry Woods, or his partisan activities. Rather announced: "A legal setback late today for Kenneth Starr, the Republican independent counsel in the Whitewater case. A federal judge in Little Rock threw out Starr's indictment of Arkansas' Democratic Governor."
CBS ignored Woods' friendship with Mrs. Clinton, who "once wanted Hillary to run for Governor when Bill was undecided," according to a September 7 Wall Street Journal editorial. Woods has been "active in Democratic politics in Arkansas for more than 40 years, and developed particularly close relations with Mrs. Clinton when he appointed her to a citizen's committee in his long-running school desegregation case." The Washington Times noted that he was an overnight White House guest who monitored election returns last November.
Free the Cabbies
Monopoly often happens by government control, rather than market failure, as NBC's Roger O'Neil explained on the August 1 Nightly News. He told the story of three entrepreneurial cabbies trying to overcome restrictions on the number of cab companies in Denver. "The trip to get that first fare took four years, a federal court lawsuit, and some lawmakers willing to break up a state-sanctioned monopoly of the cab business....For Leroy Jones and his partners, all minorities, theirs was a fight, not for affirmative action, but for economic liberty."
O'Neil explained the national implications: "Cabbies, hair dressers, garbage truck drivers, an estimated 10 percent of all jobs, about 12.5 million, require a license from the government. Passed years ago to protect consumers, many of these archaic state and local laws now protect the old established companies from new competition and force customers to pay more in inflated prices."
A Department of Transportation study said nearly 40,000 new jobs would be created if the cab business was deregulated, and riders could be saved $800 million in fares because of the increased competition.
O'Neil added: "It happened in Indianapolis. Six months after deregulation, 32 new companies, three-quarters of them women and minority owned, and for the first time, a price war." He concluded: "Without the red tape, Jones and the others say they feel for the first time freedom to climb the economic ladder, to succeed on their own."
On July 27, ABC aired a Peter Jennings Reporting special, "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb Was Dropped," which earned last month's Janet Cooke Award. He claimed the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs even though Japan's "military hardliners" were talking surrender. Japan, he charged, wanted only to preserve their emperor, Hirohito. Just weeks later, on August 14, World News Tonight devoted most of its newscast to V-J Day, including two segments reversing the Jennings take on the war's end. ABC's John McWethy noted that after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "for five agonizing days...the world waits...preparations for an invasion of Japan had to continue." Mark Litke found that "Japanese students were still being drafted to prepare for the expected U.S. invasion, boys as young as 12 were being trained to fly Kamikaze suicide missions."
The reporters used experts Jennings did not. Norman Polmar recalled that "no Japanese military unit in World War II, in 44 months of war, had ever surrendered to U.S. forces." Litke explained that "Japan's emperor and civilian leaders had wanted to end the war weeks earlier, but feared a military revolt." He interviewed Kasotoshi Hondo, author of Japan's Longest Day, and explained a film of that book was how "many Japanese learned for the first time how the military attempted a coup d'etat" and stormed the palace in a last-minute attempt to stop the emperor's recorded surrender message.
Who's Protecting Newt?
Gail Sheehy's September Vanity Fair profile of Newt Gingrich publicized charges that he had extramarital affairs in the 1970s, including the claims of a British woman named Anne Manning. CNN Reliable Sources host Bernard Kalb complained August 13: "Is there a double standard at work?....When President Clinton was hit by stories about alleged sexual escapades and so forth, I'm thinking of Paula Jones and so forth, the media circled around like buzzards."
Buzzards? Other than a 16-second mention on ABC's World News Tonight, the media ignored Jones for three months, until The Washington Post got around to reporting it.
By contrast, CNN jumped first on the Gingrich story on the August 8 Inside Politics, before the magazine even hit the news stands. CNN repeated the story on the next day's Inside Politics and World News. CBS This Morning also told Manning's story on August 9. Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio all followed on the sex story within ten days.
Time and Newsweek each devoted a page to Sheehy. Last year Newsweek wrote of "Paula Jones' Credibility Gap" and tagged her a "Dogpatch Madonna." This year? Newsweek told the place and type of sex Gingrich had with Manning, sarcastically noting the article "wasn't the best news for a politician who earlier this year urged Americans to embrace the values of Victorian England."
Janet Cooke Award: Hager's Early Campaign Commercial
Can seven complex environmental issues be thoroughly explained in a two-minute story? On August 8, NBC Nightly News reporter Robert Hager didn't even try, listing seven areas where Republicans would threaten public health and safety, which earned him the Janet Cooke Award.
To address the claims made by NBC with almost no rebuttal, we review NBC's claims, countered by an open letter sent to NBC by House Republican Whip Tom DeLay.
Hager began: "The purity of the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat. For two decades the Environmental Protection Agency has led the cleanup, but at a cost of $7 billion a year to government, billions more to business. The newly elected Republican controlled House believed it had a mandate to put the brakes on that. Programs to further crack down on industrial pollution of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay shown here. Another 15 million tons of dumping was to be outlawed next year but the House voted to cut out funds to stop that dumping." [NBC ran a large yellow graphic on the screen: "CUT OUT FUNDS TO STOP DUMPING."]
DeLay responded: "The appropriations provision this claim appears to refer to actually states that the EPA may not expend funds in Fiscal Year 1996 to develop new standards of water quality until the Clean Water Act is reauthorized. Current standards are unaffected."
Hager: "A particular program to rid the Great Lakes of dioxin and PCBs -- the lakes provide drinking water for 23 million, but now dioxin and PCB cleanup would be delayed by the House." [Over a visual of a dead fish, the graphic: "DELAY GREAT LAKES CLEANUP."]
DeLay: "The House provision actually allows the Great Lakes states to come up with more effective, innovative ways to meet EPA's water quality standards and restricts EPA from penalizing states for doing so. Up to now, EPA has been enforcing the guidelines it is required by law to provide as if they were strict regulations. In fact, they are only guidelines...the bottom line is that states and industries must comply with current law and continue to meet every water quality requirement that is now on the books."
Hager: "Programs to keep dirty storm water and overflow sewage from draining into rivers and lakes. The House would stop enforcement of such cleanup." [Graphic: "STOP ENFORCEMENT."]
DeLay: "It is widely agreed upon that the current centralized stormwater permitting program is broken.
The permit application alone costs over $600,000 and compliance costs number in the billions....last May's Clean Water Amendments asked states to come up with their own more effective plans for meeting EPA's standards."
Hager: "Protection of wetlands, which prevent flooding and permit wildfowl to breed. Money to stop developers from filling in wetlands would be cut off." [Graphic: "MONEY CUT OUT."]
DeLay: "The appropriations wetland provision will not destroy any wetlands, it simply restricts EPA's role in enforcing the wetlands program. EPA is not the primary agency responsible for the wetlands program -- the Army Corps of Engineers is, and its role is not diminished in any way....EPA will be restricted from issuing 11th hour vetoes and contributing to the bureaucratic tangles that result from having more than one agency involved in administering a program."
Hager: "Air pollution by heavy industry. A single loophole would be created to allow oil refineries to avoid installing the best cleanup equipment." [Graphic: "LOOPHOLE CREATED FOR OIL REFINERIES."]
DeLay: "Industry has been working with EPA for two years to develop a regulation that provides public health benefits in the most cost-effective manner....EPA has insisted on using data that is 15 years old, when accurate data on industry equipment leaks exists from 1993....Clinton's own Deputy Secretary of Energy recommended to EPA that this proposal be withdrawn...because the costs were so great and the benefits so small."
Hager: "Pollution by nearly 200 industrial incinerators, which burn hazardous waste for fuel. New EPA rules would have cut way back on that, but the House voted to ease the new rules, permit burning of waste to continue." [Graphic: "EASE NEW RULES FOR INCINERATORS."]
DeLay: "This provision...simply requires the EPA to implement existing laws by following its own procedures which allow for public comment and development of an adequate factual record in setting standards that affect the waste treatment industry. EPA is violating the Administrative Procedure Act by trying to circumvent existing procedural requirements."
Hager: "To clean up smog, efforts to force tougher auto emissions tests. The House would stop tougher tests." [Graphic: "STOP TOUGHER AUTO TESTS."]
DeLay: "EPA insists that a centralized emissions testing program is better than a decentralized program...The Rand Corporation found that `a well-safeguarded decentralized system, with rigorous state supervision, can be highly effective.' This rider simply allows states flexibility to design emissions testing programs that will best address their pollution problems."
Hager: "The setting of safe levels for pesticides permitted on food. The House would restrict EPA's ability to further crack down on such levels." [Over a visual of a child eating fruit, the graphic: "RESTRICT SETTING LEVELS FOR PESTICIDE."]
DeLay: "EPA is currently considering canceling  pesticides, which have been proven to be safe, under the flawed notion that any pesticide residue on food must pose a zero risk of cancer....the Director of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs has stated that revoking tolerances on these pesticides is `stupid....a nonsensical waste of the taxpayer dollar.'"
When asked about the lack of rebuttal, Hager told MediaWatch: "That was something that bugged me that day. I was hunting desperately for some Republican voice. First, we tried [Rep.] Tom Bliley. He blew us off. Then we tried [Rep.] Jack Fields. He wouldn't do it. We ran out of time. We sent a crew to Senator Craig's office, but they changed their mind. I grabbed Senator Gramm." Gramm only was allowed to tell NBC viewers that voters wanted lower taxes and less regulation, which didn't refute anything in the report. Hager admitted to MediaWatch: "The text does a number [on Republicans] on the environmental issue."
Hager didn't need GOP talking heads to add balance to his story, which looked like a two-minute liberal attack ad. The balance presented here, of Hager's Democratic charges and DeLay's Republican rebuttals, would have been a much better news story -- if NBC reporters would at least pretend to be referees instead of liberal advocates.