MediaWatch August 1993

Vol. Seven No. 8

Revolving Door: deLaski's Defensive Detail

For the March 27 World News Tonight, Kathleen deLaski filed a story on Defense Secretary Les Aspin's budget presentation. Now, Aspin's her boss. In July, deLaski became the chief public affairs officer at the Defense Department. Before joining ABC's Washington bureau in 1988, she worked at WBAL-TV in Baltimore and covered arms control and defense for National Public Radio.

Last year she contributed to ABC's campaign coverage. In a September 20 story, deLaski looked at candidate misstatements. After noting that Clinton falsely claimed Bush would cut Social Security, she continued: "Republican scare tactics are not so targeted to certain voting blocs. Bush is accused of using Clinton's tax plan to scare almost everyone." Viewers then saw a clip of Bush asserting "He says he wants to tax the rich, but folks, he defines rich as anyone who has a job." To which, deLaski retorted, "Not true. Middle class Americans, Clinton says, will get a tax cut, although he has yet to define middle class."

As troops were going to Somalia, she found: "Some food aid groups are calling for more spending at home, particularly after a recent study showed that the numbers of undernourished swelled by 50 percent in the last decade," she asserted leading into a soundbite from Robert Fersh of the Food Research and Action Center. Her Dec. 6 story failed to identify Fersh as liberal or to include a conservative view.

In step with Clintonite thinking that "tax and spend" equals caring, she concluded that a "poll suggests that most Americans are already sensitive to the problems of hunger in America. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they'd be willing to pay a special income tax of $100 a year to feed this nation's hungry."

Bye-Bye John

In July John Chancellor said goodbye to 40-plus years with NBC, interrupted in 1966 by a two-year stint as Director of the Voice of America for the Johnson Administration. NBC Nightly News anchor from 1972 to 1982, he's offered commentary for the past decade. The Washington Post bade farewell with this headline: "John Chancellor, Giving the Voice of Reason a Rest." The Post's Howard Kurtz relayed, "Chancellor says his own politics are more left-of-center than his on-screen analysis. `I think you hold back some,' he says. Over the years, he says, he `probably developed a way of looking the news that was pretty centrist.'"

Voice of Reason? Centrist? From April 17, 1990: "The overall tax burden for Americans, federal, state, and local, is actually quite low....The fact is Americans could pay more taxes and the country wouldn't go down the tube. Taxpayers don't believe this because they are being conned by the politicians...The truth is that the United States needs higher taxes and can afford them. Some political leaders are now starting to say that, but until more say it, the country will remain in trouble."

Rationalizing the Los Angeles riots on April 20 last year: "It's not a big surprise that the jury in suburban Simi Valley sided with the white policemen. Just as it's no surprise that the blacks in downtown Los Angeles rioted and people died.... Politicians have fanned these flames with code words about `welfare queens,' `equal opportunity,' and `quotas.' Language designed to turn whites against blacks. With two-party politics that favored the rich and hurt everyone else."