MediaWatch: July 1995

Vol. Nine No. 7


MediaWatch gave the May Janet Cooke Award to ABC's Ned Potter for his April 3 story critiquing House GOP stories of regulatory excess, such as a rule that requires dentists to keep a log of white-out bottles they dispose. Two months later, on the June 7 Prime Time Live, Sam Donaldson offered his own anecdotes, asking: "You want to know who has the power in Washington to really control your life? Not the Republicans or the Democrats, but the bureaucrats who write and administer federal regulations."

Donaldson claimed that "regulations protect us," but "there are thousands of regulations in the books and many of them don't work right, which cost people a lot of time and money." A tree care company was forced to buy 10 gas cans at $230 each because of three Department of Transportation regulations and one

OSHA regulation. Donaldson added: "Fair enough, but look here, this five gallon gas can won't fit in a lot of standard chain saws, so half the gas spills to the ground. And it won't fit in the carrying compartments in the truck. Now comes the clincher -- it turns out there was no need to buy these expensive cans after all."

Donaldson found an obscure loophole that allowed a can that sold for $23.99 to comply with the standards, "but who knew it?" Apparently not even the agencies that wrote the regulations: "It took DOT three days to come up with the loophole. It took OSHA six days." Donaldson ended his story applauding the movement Potter ridiculed: "The House plans to devote one day a month to rolling back regulations that don't work. The first such `corrections day' is expected to be held soon. Help is on the way."

Unreported Human Rights

Although the media cover human rights abuses in communist China, the country's one-child policy of forced abortion and sterilization is usually either ignored or given tacit approval as a weapon in the global fight against "overpopulation." On January 19, Peter Jennings lamented that China would reach one billion people in February: "There are laws in China against having more than one child, but the laws are widely ignored."

Going where the "pro-choice" media fear to tread, John Roberts explored China's policy on the May 28 CBS Evening News, focusing on an emigrating couple in the United States. "The couple is claiming asylum based on China's family-planning policies. Chen says officials aborted her third pregnancy, sterilized her, then tried to sterilize her husband. As Congress has documented, such practices are typical." Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said: "Forced abortions are often performed very late in pregnancy, even in the ninth month. The baby gets an injection of formaldehyde or some other poison into the baby's cranium." Roberts added: "The Clinton Administration does not consider forced abortion and sterilization to be grounds for asylum, a reversal from the Reagan and Bush years. Advocates say the Administration has even tried to block asylum hearings for political reasons."