In This Issue
Networks Try to Create "Houston II"; NewsBites: Unconcerned About Rape; Revolving Door: Fallows Fallacies; Reaganomics, the Scary Sequel; Don't Touch Welfare!; Ross Takes on the Boss; Kemp Choice Spurs Talk of "Haters"
Networks Try to Create "Houston II"
The shadow of Houston has stubbornly remained a part of the media image of the Republican Party. The Texas town's 1992 convention quickly became a "feast of hate and fear" in the media lexicon, as the networks heaped 70 statements or questions about the appropriateness of the alleged overly negative tone of the Republicans, compared to zero mentions for the Democrats in New York's Madison Square Garden.
The 1996 convention in San Diego offered reporters the promise of another Houston, a mirror image of the punitive, extremist fiasco reporters created out of the last convention. But the moderated tone the Republicans sought to project gave reporters few opportunities to create new controversy.
But the biased pattern of past conventions did repeat itself, if not to the same degree as four years ago. In short, during the San Diego convention:
(1) Republican delegates, speakers, and candidates were described as conservative more than three times as often as moderate, but also as extreme more often than as moderate;
(2) Reporters and anchors posed more than seven times as many questions from the liberal agenda than from a conservative agenda; and
(3) controversies, especially the intra-party tussle over abortion, of Republican exclusivity and "intolerance," far outnumbered the coverage of controversies and the exclusion of pro-life speakers at the Democrats' 1992 convention.
During the convention, a team of MediaWatch analysts in both San Diego and Alexandria, Virginia watched live prime time coverage offered by the five networks. The information appeared in a special daily Media Reality Check '96 newsletter. This year's study follows the methodology of convention studies in 1984, 1988, and 1992, and covered all ABC, CBS, and NBC prime time coverage, as well as the combined PBS/NBC coverage and CNN from 8 pm to 11pm Eastern time. In the September issue, MediaWatch will publish a comparison of the San Diego coverage with coverage of the Democrats in Chicago.
Network reporters followed the usual pattern of convention labeling, with 46 conservative (with 16 references to extreme conservatism) to 13 moderate labels. NBC had only two conservative labels and four moderate tags. CBS, with nine references to conservatives and five labels for moderates, also came close to balancing the labels. ABC(10-0), CNN (16-2), and PBS (9-2) underlined the conservative nature of the party. PBS led in the use of extreme labels with six, followed by CNN (4), CBS (3), ABC (2) and NBC (1).
The amount of labeling declined every night: from 29 on Monday to 14 on Tuesday, 11 on Wednesday, and five on Thursday. The label count did not include mentions of the party's attempts to woo "moderate voters," and also excluded historical references (for example, a reference to a "more moderate" Richard Nixon in the 1950s). Some examples of references to extremism:
Margaret Warner asked Newt Gingrich on PBS Monday night: "The Dole campaign officials do say that partly this convention is designed to undo the damage done to the Republican image by you and the Republican Congress, which fairly or unfairly, the voters seem to see as extreme. You've heard all the words. Do you think that's true and does it make you feel repudiated at all?"
On Tuesday night, CBS reporter Lesley Stahl explained the night about to unfold: "The whole purpose of tonight's convention, the whole program is to diminish the images of this party as extreme because that's what's turning the women off. Four years ago, the main speaker at the convention, the Republican convention, was Pat Buchanan. He was yelling, his pitchforks were raised. Tonight it will be Colin Powell, he will appeal to civility. On the platform, women find that extreme. It's turning them off." (The study did not incorporate evening news statements, like this one from Dan Rather to Jack Kemp on Monday's CBS Evening News: "Even some Republicans describe the current platform as quote, `harsh, extreme,' even `radical.' Do you see it that way?")
NBC's Tim Russert echoed Stahl the same night: "Key words: mean-spirited and extremist. They want to avoid those labels. They have thus far after two days and that's why you're not going to see Newt Gingrich in prime time tonight...I think the speech by Senator Hutchison of Texas is dangerous, Tom, because she uses words that could be interpreted by some people as mean."
Also on Tuesday came this explanation from CBS veteran Bob Schieffer: "The Dole campaign had a very delicate assignment as they see it. They want to get the word out to mainstream America that Senator Dole's thinking is more in line with that thinking, than perhaps even some of these very conservative delegates in this hall."
References to Republican moderates often came with a skeptical tone. On Tuesday night, CBS reporter Ed Bradley asked a Buchanan delegate: "There's been an effort to paint a moderate face to this convention. How does this sit with you?"
When network reporters and analysts weren't dwelling on media images or tactical gambits, their questions on the issues came more than seven times as often from the liberal agenda as they did from the conservative agenda: 51 questions were asked from the left, to just six from the right. ABC asked only three liberal agenda questions and no conservative ones in four nights. CBS came closest to balancing agenda questions (8-3), while NBC (10-1), CNN (10-1), and PBS (20-1) stuck almost completely to agenda questions from the left:
A number of the questions from the left poured skepticism on the Dole tax cut plan. NBC's Maria Shriver asked New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman on Tuesday: "Bill Clinton has said that Bob Dole's proposal for the economy would end up crippling the economy, balloon the deficit. Why is he wrong?" She added: "Governor, are you not all concerned about what happens to the federal deficit, which is a major, major concern for most of the delegates at this convention, based on the polling that we've done, if Bob Dole is able to put into effect his 15 percent tax cut?"
On Monday night, Tom Brokaw asked Gov. Pete Wilson: "But why should the children of illegal immigrants be penalized, as the language in the platform indicates they will be, especially those who become citizens if they're born here, even if they're born to illegal immigrants?"
On CNN, Bob Franken asked conservative evangelist Jerry Falwell Monday night about HIV-positive Republican activist Mary Fisher's speech: "Many of the AIDS activists would claim that part of the problem they have is the attitude toward AIDS victims among fundamentalists, among conservatives like yourself. How do you respond to that?" He added: "But you are aware that many in the gay community feel that it is hostility from people like your followers that contributes to the problems they have."
On Wednesday night, after paralyzed former police officer Steve McDonald addressed the delegates, Franken pointedly interviewed National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre: "I'm going to ask you is here you have a policeman who was shot in the line of duty with weapons and...the criticism of your organization is that it's because of you those weapons are so readily available....Here we have a policeman who was shot by weapons that might not have been out there, the critics say, were it not for the NRA."
There were a few examples of conservative agenda questions, like Bob Schieffer's Tuesday question to Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: "You talked a lot about Bill Clinton's broken promises. What promise do you think -- I know Republicans are trying to bring women into the big tent -- what promise has he made or broken, in your view, that has hurt women the most?"
That night, Dan Rather asked Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson: "Now the main speaker tonight, as was the case for the main speaker last night, is pro-choice. How mad does that make you?"
Peter Jennings suggested in the August 12 San Diego Union-Tribune: "Whenever a political party goes out of its way to restrain, isolate, or box in other voices -- and both parties do it -- then you almost invariably attract the attention of journalists." But Jennings and the rest of ABC, as well as CBS, in 1992 ignored the Democrats' decision to refuse Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey an opportunity to state his pro-life views from the Madison Square Garden convention podium. NBC interviewed Casey once. CNN also interviewed him once, and mentioned the controversy on four other occasions.
In San Diego, the networks drove home the controversy within the Republican Party over abortion: reporters, anchors, and analysts referred to the party's split over the issue -- including platform disagreements and Gov. Pete Wilson's "disinvitation" to speak -- on 55 occasions. The emphasis on the abortion controversy was mostly contained to the first two nights -- 21 mentions on Monday night, 25 on Tuesday, and then only eight on Wednesday night and one on Thursday. CNN (with 18 mentions) dwelled on the controversy the most, followed by PBS (13), CBS (12), ABC (8), and NBC (4).
On Monday night, NBC's Tom Brokaw stressed: "But so far the indication is that these people, who want to encourage a more tolerant, moderate attitude toward abortion have been denied the right to speak. Their Republican credentials are impeccable, and they're going everywhere and complaining that they're not going to be allowed in this hall." Minutes later, he added: "What you will not see at this podium -- the Governor of the host state, Pete Wilson. He's not going to be allowed to speak because he has some views on abortion that the Dole campaign would not rather have expressed here, and also William Weld, the Governor of Massachusetts."
On Tuesday, CNN's Bernard Shaw suggested: "Bob Dole did not get the tolerance lanugage he wanted in the abortion plank which came out of this platform committee earlier in the week. He didn't get a few other things. The conservatives have ironclad control over this convention, but he did get the opportunity to have some people who are pro-choice speak before this convention tonight, one of them Susan Molinari."
CBS reporter Lesley Stahl took on the controversy from the pro-life side of the fence on Wednesday before labeling it extreme: "We're hearing a lot of grousing about the repackaging of the party...In gagging opponents of abortion, affirmative action, those kinds of issues, Bob Dole may be turning off the very people he needs to leave the convention gung-ho. They say putting three pro-choice women on last night was too much. But Bob Dole has a dilemma: In order to win, he does have to change the perception of this party as too extreme."
(The study did not include evening news statements, like Peter Jennings' oration on the Tuesday World News Tonight: "The right to abortion has never been an overwhelming issue for women at election time. But this fight within the Republican Party has many Republican women questioning how far this party is willing to go to limit their rights.")
The convention week focus on abortion was only a small part of the network attention this year to the GOP abortion plank. Just during the Sunday morning interview shows on August 11, the networks asked 27 questions about exclusion of pro-abortion Republicans. Eleven questions were posed on CNN's Late Edition, compared to nine on NBC's Meet the Press, four on ABC's This Week with David Brinkley, and three on CBS's Face the Nation.
From April 30, when four "moderate" governors declared they would challenge the party's pro-life plank, to August 9, ABC, CBS, and NBC preferred beating on the Republican side of the story by 60 to 1. The networks aired 30 full stories on the evening newscasts, compared to only one ABC story on the Democrats. The morning shows aired 30 full stories or interview segments on the GOP debate, to nothing about the Democrats. (That doesn't include five anchor briefs on the evening shows and 34 on the morning shows).
CNN's evening newscast The World Today aired seven full stories and ten anchor briefs on the GOP pro-life plank, to only one anchor brief on the Democrats. CNN's Inside Politics, a show favored by political junkies, aired 38 full stories or interview segments on the GOP to two segments on the Democrats. The Democrats held platform hearings on July 10 and 11, and finished on August 5 -- with almost no media attention.
NewsBites: Unconcerned About Rape
Just after rape victim Jan Licence addressed the Republican convention on victims' rights on August 13, NBC's Maria Shriver seemed baffled. During combined PBS/NBC coverage Shriver posed to her this question: "But why [speak out] at a Republican convention? So many people have said that they don't think this ticket, or perhaps this party, is supportive of women's issues. Why make this stand here?" Later, during NBC's prime time broadcast, Tom Brokaw interviewed Licence and asked: "Do you think -- this is a party that is dominated by men and this convention is dominated by men as well...Do you think before tonight they thought very much about what happens in America with rape?"
To keep "out what officials call the biased liberal media," the RNC launched GOP-TV to provide complete convention coverage, NBC's Bob Faw reported on the August 13 Today. Faw asserted: "What GOP-TV calls unfiltered, doesn't even begin to pay lip service to balance or fairness." NBC should know. Here's how Bryant Gumbel opened that morning's Today: "Good morning. Retired General Colin Powell, a new recruit to the GOP cause, addressed the delegates in San Diego last night, drawing cheers with accounts of why he became a Republican and why he'll vote for Bob Dole. But although his speech was generally well-received, the reception was restrained, and there were boos whenever Powell steered away from the right. Though they booed and also heckled dissent, Republicans claimed the mantle of inclusion throughout the first night of their convention. We can expect more of the same today, Tuesday, August 13, 1996." Guess which network scares journalists? Faw reported that "Jonathan Alter of Newsweek thinks GOP-TV has started something deceptive and unwholesome." Alter explained: "It is political propaganda, masquerading as news, and that's a problem." Political propaganda masquerading as news? Sounds like Bryant Gumbel.
It's the Republican's Fault.
Calling conservatives "extremists" and lying about budget "cuts" have been Democratic mantra, but two networks blamed the GOP for getting nasty. NBC's Maria Shriver asked Dole California campaign chairman Ken Khachigian on August 14: "You said coming out of this campaign, Clinton is going to have 80 days of hell, that we are going to take Clinton down in California, that we are going to take him down hard. How ugly is this going to get?" About 20 minutes after Bob Dole completed his acceptance speech, CNN anchor Bernard Shaw discovered the beginning of a nasty campaign: "I've maintained that this campaign is going to be one of the nastiest, bare-knuckled, direct-to-the-gut campaigns in America's political history. Listen to this one sentence, quote `It is demeaning to the nation that within the Clinton administration a core of the elite never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned, should have the power to fund with your earnings their dubious and self-serving schemes.'"
Decrying Clinton Criticism.
Journalistic sensitivity to any attacks on Bill Clinton quickly came through loud and clear the morning after U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchision spoke. "GOP Unleashes An Attack On Clinton Over Character and His Economic Policies," charged a New York Times headline. "Congresswoman Susan Molinari took on the role of attack dog last night, using her keynote address to attack the President," Bryant Gumbel began the August 14 Today. NBC's morning crew stuck to the Democratic line in their questions. Gumbel asked Tim Russert: "There's an old adage that says what you do speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say. Republicans are speaking tolerance and diversity. Are you seeing any evidence of it or quite the contrary?" Katie Couric inquired of Republican strategist Charles Black: "Chris Dodd of the DNC says this is a huge con game. That the way you're portraying the party as this moderate inclusive party just doesn't gibe with say, the platform, and some of the attitudes of members of the GOP. How do you address that?" Over on Good Morning America, news anchor Elizabeth Vargas asserted: "Some of the harshest words were from Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who tried to paint the President as a tax and spend liberal." Co-host Charles Gibson added: "Polls will tell you these days that people do not want much partisanship in their politics, but they got it at the Republican convention last night. There were attacks on President Clinton's credibility, integrity, even his eating habits." ABC's Vargas didn't shy away from stereotyping: "But in addition to a gender gap, Republicans have had problems attracting minorities, a party that has traditionally been home to the angry white man."
If only the moderates were more aggressive then conservatives could be defeated, Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter wished in the August 19 issue. He gave pro-abortion Republicans his recipe for political success. In a piece titled "The Passion Gap," he wrote: "Pro-choice Republicans insist it's their party, too. But the high-minded moderates are too polite to take on the hard-charging right. Until they do, the GOP may never truly win over the country." The crux of his wisdom? Attack your loyal supporters: "This is now the fifth nominating convention in which the GOP has applied an anti-abortion litmus test. Ronald Reagan signed an abortion-rights law as Governor of California, then changed his position in time for his presidential campaigns. George Bush was such a supporter of family planning as a congressman that he was called `Rubbers,' but by the 1980s had flip-flopped. Bob Dole is pro-life but has gone back and forth so many times on platform language and planks that he has raised basic questions about his leadership. If he can't stand up to a Phyllis Schlafly, how would he handle a Saddam Hussein?" Alter closed by holding up the Democratic Party, the same party that shut Governor Bob Casey out of its 1992 convention for his pro-life views, as an example of the big-tent the GOP should emulate: "The only real way to change the Republican Party is for...a pro-choice candidate to run for President in 2000....Sometime soon a compelling moderate Republican will take a leaf from the successes of centrist Democrats and enter a few primaries. Then we'll find out if the Republicans can finally pitch that big tent they like to talk about."
Republicans Scare Women.
Supposed GOP intolerance and how Republican policies scare women dominated morning show interviews during the Republican gathering in San Diego. Talking to Susan Molinari, Christine Todd Whitman, and Kay Bailey Hutchison on August 13, Good Morning America's Charlie Gibson laid out why women are turned off by Republicans: "It was the Republican Party that did take the lead on ending federal welfare payments as they have been traditionally paid over the last 50 to 60 years and the prime beneficiaries of that are women. It is the Republican Party that took the lead on reducing the rate of growth in Medicare and Medicaid. It is the Republican Party now that is trying to make an issue of denying education and benefits to the children of illegal immigrants. It is the Republican Party that has rejected in the last week or so, tolerance language on abortion in the platform." He also asked: "There was an attempt by some in the platform hearings to get language included in the platform that simply asked for toleration of dissenting views particularly on abortion. It was language that Bob Dole wanted in the platform. The party rejected him, it rejected your views, all three of you in this, is this a tolerant party, do you feel comfortable in it with its position on tolerance?" Quizzing Colin Powell on Today, Katie Couric queried: "Does the party platform trouble you? Does the fact that some of these governors opted not to speak because they were told they could not discuss their views on abortion, do all those things make you basically doubt that this is a big tent here?"
Buchanan "Destroyed" Bush.
Four years later the media still promote the idea that Pat Buchanan's 1992 speech, not reneging on his "no new taxes" pledge, led to George Bush's defeat. Andrea Mitchell stated on MSNBC August 12 after Colin Powell spoke: "There's a real interesting contrast here because Pat Buchanan set the tone for the Houston convention four years ago with the same prime time starring role on the first night of the convention and that of course was the speech that many people feel destroyed George Bush's chance of winning re-election because it set a very narrow, exclusive and mean-spirited tone and tonight we had the contrast of Colin Powell." Earlier in the day on ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Charles Gibson couldn't let the issue die: "It is this convention that is going to be harmonious. The Republicans are determined that there will be no repeat of Houston 1992, which many saw as a harsh and divisive convention." While never mentioning that raising taxes could have cost Bush the election, ABC's John Cochran opined on World News Tonight: "The one thing that Bush did not have to tell Dole is that at all cost Dole should try to prevent a re-run of that bitter divisive convention four years ago in Houston, that so badly damaged Bush's chances for re-election. Dole knows that only too well."
Delegates Out of Touch.
Early in the first day of PBS/NBC coverage, millionaire Tom Brokaw asked: "The big question, of course, what is the Republican Party these days?...Well on the floor of this convention hall, they are overwhelmingly white and male, male by a factor of about two to one...The largest single income group, more than 38 percent of the people here earn more than $100,000 a year." On the CBS Evening News that night Ed Bradley asserted: "For the most part they are white, male, and they are older than the average American. They are also more conservative than the average American. They are also wealthier - about a third of the delegates earn more than $100,000 a year." Millionaire anchor Dan Rather announced in prime time: "Delegates in this convention have been selected, inspected, detected, categorized by the press, the pols, the pros, and the pollsters. We know they're mostly male, overwhelmingly white, mostly well to the right politically, and almost one in five of these delegates is a millionaire." CNN's Judy Woodruff raised the media-created issue with keynote speaker Susan Molinari: "We look at the statistics of how many women delegates. What? 43 percent in 1992. Only 36 percent of the delegates are women this year. What sort of signal does that send to the country, you think?" Woodruff also complained: "We talked to Jack Kemp a little while ago and asked him about, among other things, the fact that not only not just the language in the platform - only three percent of these delegates are African American. Only 36 percent of these delegates are women. This is not a convention that is necessarily representative even of the broader Republican Party, the people who vote Republican, much less the electorate overall." A Washington Post survey of delegates determined that while 56 percent of Republicans reported an income of over $75,000, so did 46 percent of Democrats.
Revolving Door: Fallows Fallacies
Mort Zuckerman, owner of U.S. News & World Report, has chosen James Fallows, a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, as the new Editor of his magazine. In September Fallows will replace co-editors Michael Ruby and Merrill McLoughlin.
Fallows served as chief speechwriter to Carter and earlier this year President Bill Clinton appointed him to the Commission on United States-Pacific Trade and Investment Policy. Fallows generated some publicity a few months ago for his book, Breaking News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy. The April American Spectator ran a review by columnist Robert Novak which explained Fallows' liberal premises.
For instance: "Fallows spends a long chapter blaming the news media for killing the Clinton health plan `What [the Clintons] lost legislatively,' he writes, `was trivial compared to the damage to public life.' If a working definition of a 1996 liberal is somebody who still believes that government is the solution rather than the problem, then Fallows surely qualifies. The desire to drum his conviction into the hearts and minds of Americans explains his enthusiasm for `public journalism' -- a relatively new phenomenon that calls for newspaper editors to collaborate with citizens in deciding what news is fit to print....He would have a reporter say `whether a Medicare proposal makes sense or not,' heedless that doing so would engage the reporter in opinion, not fact. Thus he clumsily confuses good journalism with a liberal agenda."
Who are Fallows' heroes? Novak learned: "When it comes to `helping readers understand what current trends mean,' Garry Wills `is well-suited to this challenge.' Michael Kinsley `is by most accounts the most talented policy writer of his generation.' It's not surprising, then, that Fallows never deigns to even consider the following proposition: the reason so many people hate the news media is that journalists like Fallows are outrageously biased in the liberal direction, and never bother to identify their true position on the political spectrum in the first place."
George Washington University students will have a veteran of network news and the Clinton administration all in one professor this semester. Carl Stern, Director of public affairs for Attorney General Janet Reno since early 1993, stepped down in July. A reporter for NBC News since 1967, he covered the Supreme Court and legal affairs for years before being tapped by Reno.
The new VP for corporate communications for CBS Inc. is Lisa Caputo, the Press Secretary to Hillary Clinton since the 1992 campaign. Caputo had previously toiled for Dukakis-Bentsen in 1988. Hillary Clinton, The Washington Times reported June 20, praised Caputo: "She has been a tireless voice for the issues that this administration has championed."
Knowing the ABC's of Events
ABC's decision to drop plans for an all-news cable channel has left in charge of election coverage a former aide to liberal Senator George McGovern: Jeff Gralnick, Press Secretary to McGovern in 1971. He was Executive Producer of NBC Nightly News when plucked to head ABC's effort. He's now in charge of special events for ABC News, such as conventions and campaign events.
Reaganomics, the Scary Sequel
Bob Dole's surprising advocacy of an across-the-board tax cut drew quick criticism from reporters as the unwelcome return of deficit-ballooning Reaganomics.
Hours after Dole's tax cut announcement on August 5, NBC Nightly News reporter David Bloom declared: "Most economists say the Reagan tax cuts did worsen the budget deficit and many are skeptical of Dole's plan." NBC's Mike Jensen agreed about "most economists" minutes later: "They say these tax cuts could cause huge budget deficits as they did during the Reagan years."
CBS Evening News reporter Linda Douglass warned Dole weeks before on July 23: "Each of the proposals he's considering would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Dole will have to convince voters that won't drive up the deficit."
Newsweek's Joe Klein pronounced: "The Dole tax cut stands, to all but hard-core taxophobes, as a transparent and rather pathetic bit of politics. He wants to cut $548 billion over six years? And balance the budget? Does anyone actually believe this?"
The August 12 Investor's Business Daily noted the real Reagan record: that Clinton's own Economic Report of the President showed "receipts from individual income taxes rose to $446 billion in fiscal `89, Reagan's last budget, from $286 billion in fiscal `81, the year Reagan began to slash personal rates. That's a 56 percent gain...Spending rose to $1.143 trillion in `89 from $678 billion in `81. That's a 69 percent gain."
Skepticism of Reaganomics stood in stark contrast to the media's salesmanlike reaction to Clinton economic proposals in 1992 and 1993. On the September 15, 1993 Sunday Morning, CBS's Douglass simply passed on the notion that Clinton could insure 37 million uninsured Americans with a cigarette tax: "They have a very elaborate plan to pay for this revolution in health care. It doesn't provide much in the way of taxes, just a sin tax, cigarette tax. They claim the money's going to come from savings in spending."
After years of stopping deficit-busting stimulus packages and nationalized health plans, Newsweek's Howard Fineman awarded the credit for the deficit not to Dole, but to his rival: "Clinton, meanwhile, can brag that the annual deficit has been cut in half on his watch -- and that he's a champion of fiscal responsibility. In other words, he can be Bob Dole."
The next week, Time contributor George J. Church echoed Fineman: "A case could be made that the candidate who best represents the fiscally conservative, moderate Republican tradition is, believe it or not, Bill Clinton."
Don't Touch Welfare!
Conservatives view welfare reform as a victory -- both for those trapped in the system and for taxpayers tired of paying for lifetime recipients. But after President Clinton agreed to sign the bill, the networks came at it from the left, focusing on those who supposedly would be hurt, thus helping Clinton put himself in the middle of the political spectrum.
NBC's Lisa Myers began a July 31 Nightly News segment: "For six years now Cindy McDonald and her three children have struggled to make their $400 welfare check and $300 in food stamps last until the end of the month. She says she can never treat her kids to candy or soda, they're expensive luxuries and has no car to take them anywhere. The phrase `welfare reform' infuriates her." She whined: "If they strip me from what little I have right now, then I don't know how my kids are going to eat." Myers did point out that McDonald actually has two years to find a job, but concluded: "Exactly how McDonald and others will cope with the change is uncertain. Even supporters of the bill privately admit that this is a gamble, that some will lose.''
On the CBS Evening News, substitute anchor Paula Zahn announced: "Once the welfare bill becomes law, millions of Americans will find their lives starting to change in startling and unwelcome ways." Reporter John Blackstone looked at three recipients. First up, a woman who just had a baby: "[Martina] Gillis, a single mother of two, has been on welfare for three years. The new welfare reforms would force her to get a job, any job, but that would mean giving up, or at least postponing her dream, of graduating from college." Blackstone did ask her if it's the taxpayers' responsibility to pay for her mistake and then moved to a Mexican immigrant who cried about being cut off.
Third, leading into his conclusion, he put on a woman who "says she applied for welfare today so she can take care of her two daughters. Welfare reform may be aimed at the mothers. But the effects of this experiment, good or bad, will be felt equally by the children."
On the next day's CBS Evening News, Zahn warned: "The new, landmark welfare overhaul President Clinton promised to sign won't be law for a while yet, but there is already is a great deal of fear and anxiety all over the country over the impact it will have."
Ross Takes on the Boss
ABC's Brian Ross filed stories during the GOP conclave on corporate money lavished on the GOP, but his August 15 World News Tonight report looked at a surpising target:
"Very much in the middle of the mix are the giant media corporations, like CNN, whose multi-million-dollar merger has yet to be formally approved by federal regulators. Time Warner gave more than $100,000 to be an official sponsor of the convention." Former Los Angeles Times reporter Dwight Morris told Ross media companies shouldn't use the conventions to lobby, and Ross noted: "But that didn't stop CBS lobby ists from giving the Republicans thousands of dollars to help pay for the cost of food and liquor in the skybox belonging to Republican Party Chairman Haley Barbour."
Ross even reported on his own bosses: "Last night, the ABC hospitality suite was a lobbyist's dream. With visits from Congressman Tom Bliley, the chairman of the House Commerce Committee, which handles telecommunications issues. And then from the number two man in the House, Majority Leader Dick Armey, who could be seen with top ABC executives, including the ABC lobbyist, who insisted he wasn't lobbying."
The Friday before the Democrats convened Ross reported "a labor union under federal investigation for its ties to the mafia" contributed at least $250,000 to the party.
Kemp Choice Spurs Talk of "Haters"
Bob Dole's choice of Jack Kemp as a running mate drew praise from a number of reporters and analysts, but sometimes that praise accompanied backhanded insults about the "haters" that comprise the rest of the Republican Party.
CNN polling analyst Bill Schneider touted the choice on the August 9 Inside Politics, praising Kemp as he impugned other conservatives: "He is a rare combination -- a nice conservative. These days conservatives are supposed to be mean. They're supposed to be haters. Bob Novak talked a minute ago about the frowning face of the Republican Party. Jack Kemp is buoyant, he's effusive, he's inclusive of everybody in the country, not just in the Republican Party. He puts a different face on that ticket."
On the August 9 World News Tonight, ABC's Cokie Roberts also played backhand with Kemp: "He's very optimistic, but he's also very inclusive, reaching out to minorities, to women, being for immigration, for affirmative action. And I think that's very important for this particular convention, Peter, and this party, which is seen somewhat dour, and somewhat mean in its ways to have someone with a big smile on his face saying `you all come,' and `I'm going to cut your taxes' while you're at it, is not a bad thing for the Republicans."
During live coverage August 10 of Kemp's vice presidential announcement in Russell, Kansas, CNN anchor A0Judy Woodruff declared: "On welfare, up through the last few years, he's advocated more moderate policies than those that were passed this month by the Republican-controlled Congress. Jack Kemp does not like the idea of taking money -- yanking money away from welfare mothers with small children."
Hours later on CNN's Capital Gang, Woodruff's husband, Al Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of The Wall Street Journal, disparaged the platform while praising the Kemp pick: "Jack Kemp is gonna not only excite this convention, but he cuts across regional, racial and generational lines, across all of America, and I think that he and his incredibly attractive family are going to add lustre and intellectual firepower. Now there are some risks. He has a few flaky views, the gold standard for one, and more important, Jack Kemp is a can-do optimist who cares about all people and that s going to put him at odds with a platform that is protectionist, mean-spirited, anti-immigration, insensitive to racial minorities."
On that day's Inside Politics, Bill Schneider proceeded to repeat the previous day's slur: "Kemp also has a rare combination of qualities. He s a nice conservative. There haven't been too many of those since Ronald Reagan. Most conservatives these days come across as mean [video of Newt Gingrich] or intolerant [video of Pat Buchanan] or grouchy [video of Bob Dole]. Kemp is tolerant and inclusive. He has an excellent relationship with minorities. He showed real courage two years ago when he came out against Proposition 187, the punitive anti-illegal immigration measure in California. Kemp is not a hater."