MediaWatch: January 1989

Vol. Three No. 1

NewsBites: Predictable Planetary Panaceas

Predictable Planetary Panaceas. In lieu of the annual "Man of the Year," Time magazine chose "The Endangered Earth" as "The Planet of the Year." Time Publisher Robert Miller called it an "unorthodox choice." That may be true, but once chosen, the magazine's approach to their annual feature was anything but unorthodox -- it was typical.

In almost forty pages titled "What On Earth Are We Doing?" Time writers reviewed a multitude of liberal concerns, from toxic waste, fossil fuel pollution, deforestation, endangered species, the greenhouse effect, and the burgeoning global population problem.

What are the solutions "earth's vulnerability to man's reckless ways?" Time dropped all pretense of objectivity, calling upon the U.S. to implement the usual liberal panaceas: "Raise the Gasoline Tax," and "Encourage Debt-for-Nature Swaps." Criticizing the Reagan Administration for cutting off aid to international agencies that use abortion, Time demanded the U.S. "immediately restore the aid."

Surprise Verdict on Reaganomics. When Newsweek reviewed Reagan's economic legacy in the December 26 issue, MediaWatch expected the worst. But the magazine offered a refreshing surprise. Under the headline of "The Magic of Reaganomics," Chief Economic Correspondent Rich Thomas asserted that Reagan's "ideas have helped beat back inflation and produce real growth that for the past six years has surpassed that of any major nation except Japan."

After explaining how the theories of Milton Friedman and determination of John Wayne guided Reagan, Thomas concluded they "have helped Reagan compile the most impressive peacetime economic record of any modern President--a legacy of bold thinking and true grit."

Brady Bags Big Business. The liberal Citizens for Tax Justice released a report attacking 16 large corporations for not paying any taxes after the 1986 Tax Reform bill, CBS News reporter Ray Brady served as it's dutiful mouthpiece.

On the Sept. 22 Evening News, he reviewed some of the examples and informed people on the street of the study. They predictably complained about the unfairness. Brady concluded: "If all the companies in its survey paid the regular corporate tax rate of 40 percent, the government would have collected an extra $70 billion, enough to put a big dent in that huge federal deficit."

On December 9, The Washington Post published a story on a survey of 1,000 corporations by Tax Analysts, described as "a respected tax and information service." The study determined Big Business paid an average tax rate of 24.72 percent on their profits in 1987, up from 21.54 percent in 1986. MediaWatch called Mr. Brady to ask why he ignored the study. He hung up.

A Retail "Ho-ho?" NBC Says "Oh, No!" On December 16, NBC's Irving R. Levine took a look at Christmas sales. He didn't like what he found. "Merchants are pulling out all the stops to head off disaster, including early mark downs and gimmicks," he warned. "After six years without a recession, and heavy consumer spending, people are worried about the economy and prices are higher."

By Christmas Eve Levine realized his dire warning was off the mark, explaining: "Retailers were saved from a dismal shopping season by the calendar. This year there were two more shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than last year." The day after Christmas Levine estimated sales would probably end up seven percent from 1987. "Not a boom business," Levine decided.

On January 5 ABC's Peter Jennings described the season as "a very merry Christmas for the nation's retailers" as "the largest in the country, Sears, had the biggest month in its 102 year history." Levine missed that.