MediaWatch: April 1995

Vol. Nine No. 4

Computer Forums Reveal ABC Biases

Letting Down Their Hair

The ABC "On Demand" section on America Online is the newest location for reporters to let down their liberal hair. In a January 5 Online Auditorium, where subscribers can pose questions to an ABC reporter, Carole Simpson warned: "I fear that the Contract with America, if enacted, may be detrimental to the family, especially those single women and their fear is that Mr. Gingrich, given his history, may increase what I see as a new mean-spiritedness in this country...I would like to think that the American people care about poor people, about sick people, about homeless people, and about poor children. I am shocked by the new mean-spiritedness." Simpson also claimed: "I think the coverage of the new Republican leadership has been extremely positive."

Day One reporter John Hockenberry also played the worry wart on March 2: "I think American politics thrives on ignorance today. I think American policy works without a backup plan as long as people are so unrepentantly uninformed." Hockenberry added: "I think that capitalism is inherently amoral and it is folly to expect that a system run on greed will be able to adopt some virtuous precepts to prevent the violations of human rights." Of Clinton's political prospects, Hockenberry wrote: "Faced with the choice of a crowd-pleasing fanatic trying to look like a Republican and about a hundred real looks tough to me." Asked if the Contract with America would work, he joked: "Yes. I'm moving to Switzerland."

In the March 23 online session, ABC News Capitol Hill reporter John Cochran claimed: "Sen. Bob certainly conservative on most issues. But Packwood is extremely dubious about any tax cut until we are well on the road to balancing the budget." According to National Journal's 1992 ratings, the socially liberal Packwood drew a 54 percent conservative score on economic issues, compared to 89 percent for Bob Dole.