MediaWatch: April 1995

Vol. Nine No. 4

Revolving Door: "Balanced" Bill Moyers?

n February promotional spots NBC promised: "Bold, clear, balanced and fair. Now NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw has a new dimension -- Bill Moyers." So what has the Press Secretary to Lyndon Johnson offered in his twice a week commentaries?

A picture of politics subverted by evil corporate interests. From the first on February 14 through April 6, seven advocated a liberal view vs. just one, on March 21, which offered a conservative take. In it he looked at welfare: "It doesn't seem quite fair that" women who can't afford a child "should be paying for someone else to have several children....[The Republican's] reforms may be flawed but not as flawed as welfare itself."

February 14 on the line item veto: "But the bill has a loop hole. The President can veto tax breaks or giveaways to small groups of people and to small companies, but he can't do anything, anything, about special tax breaks or giveaways Congress keeps slipping to the big guys, like the billions of dollars to huge drug companies a couple of years ago. How come?....Well, those big companies are among the biggest contributors to political campaigns, including a lot of politicians who are crazy about the line item veto, but not that crazy, so corporate welfare gets the loophole."

February 23 on Henry Foster: "No one can speak for all Baptists, but in the last decade, the Southern Baptist Convention was captured by a political posse allied with the Republican Party. Their hierarchy wants to impose conformity on the churches. Suddenly, the 39 legal abortions performed by Henry Foster, which he says he did reluctantly, are a theological sin and a political opportunity."

March 7: "Gingrich uses words as if they were napalm bombs....He sent conservative candidates a long list of words to smear their opponents -- words like `sick,' `pathetic,' `traitors,' `corrupt,' `anti-family,' `disgrace.' With talk radio quoting it all back to us, our political landscape is a toxic dump."

March 14 on the Contract's property rights plank: "Now it's pay-back time" for business donors, "and environmental safeguards are being suspended to make way for a massive raid on public lands. The House is about to revoke laws protecting national forests from excess logging. This could mean a fortune for the timber companies," which means "the arsonists are finally in charge of the fire department."

March 23 on Gingrich: "A majority of people say they don't like what they're learning about his Contract. They know the difference between reforming the welfare state and replacing it with the corporate state....Some of this stuff...could only get through hidden in the hubcaps of a juggernaut."

April 6 on the tax bill: "Big winners won this round -- corporations, investors, people with high incomes," but, he cited trade-offs. "One, it invites the return of mischievous tax shelters that distort the economy. Two, you can't be sure of its results. The 1981 tax cuts were followed by the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Three, by encouraging consumption over savings the tax bill risks inflation. Four, it stirs sleeping cynics. How come so many tax breaks are proposed for wealthy individuals and corporations who've been pouring money into party coffers at the rate of $123,000 a day?"