MediaWatch: June 15, 1998

Vol. Twelve No. 9

NewsBites: Ads for Aliens

Ads for Aliens. As part of the 1996 welfare reform law, food stamps were cut for adult legal immigrants. On the May 31 The World Today, CNN anchor Laurie Dhue introduced a one-sided virtual ad for renewing the handout: "There is a disturbing follow-up report to the federal government's decision to cut off food stamps to legal immigrants who are not U.S. citizens...a California study finds that hunger has become a way of life for many people new to America."

Susan Reed presented a California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) study, but failed to name the group. CFPA claimed to find that 40 percent of immigrant households in L.A. and 32 percent in San Francisco experience "moderate to severe hunger," but Reed refused to provide any conflicting arguments from conservative critics. Instead, she supplemented CFPA's point: "Studies have shown that children who are hungry are less able to learn and have a greater chance of becoming anemic. Which means they will be less able to grow and fight infection."

Reed explained that food banks were set up to deal with the extra demand created by the food stamp cuts, but that only a third of those eligible are using them. Why? "Welfare officials say that for many of the immigrants food banks are just too difficult to access." Reed closed: "Both the U.S. Congress and the California Assembly are considering legislation to give food stamps back to adult immigrants, who need them."

Ferris's Day Off. Despite the views of budget-cutting conservatives, NBC portrayed Bill Ferris, the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, as a savior of southern culture and hero to the humanities. On the May 16 Nightly News Bob Dotson emphasized how Ferris spent his life, "chronicling the art of the common man," including quilt making, painting and the blues.

Dotson oozed: "Dr. Ferris' notion of the arts may make some highbrows cringe, but then his sense of culture includes those who are often omitted: women, minorities and the poor." Dotson continued with a thumbs up from B.B. King: "I don't think there is anybody more qualified than he is." No conservative critics of the NEH were aired. Dotson's report amounted to a three minute plug for Ferris and the NEH.

With Ferris strumming a blues riff in the background, Dotson ended with this endorsement: "Culture for Bill Ferris does not just come in museums. It is rooted in everyday lives. His mission in Washington is to think about all of our culture. This man who has seen so much is trying to help us from seeing too little."

Newt vs. Peace? When Newt Gingrich visited Israel in late May, he wrote in the Jerusalem Post that "Israel, and Israel alone, must define the requirements of Israeli security," and he reaffirmed the position of the U.S. Congress and the Israeli government that the capital of Israel should be Jerusalem. ABC lambasted him for possibly ruining the peace process. But when Hillary Clinton on May 7 voiced her approval for a Palestinian state, going against the policy of both the U.S. and Israel, her motives remained unquestioned by ABC.

On the May 24 World News Tonight, Richard Gizbert asserted: "Some people think Gingrich is hurting the peace process, because he may have another agenda. Recent friction between President Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu has left a potential political opening for Gingrich and the Republican Party, which he appeared to exploit when he paraded the Prime Minister through Congress during his last visit to Washington."

Gizbert questioned if this alleged partisan ploy would work: "Many American Jews are critical of Netanyahu's hardline policies. It's therefore unclear if latching onto Prime Minister Netanyahu will lead Newt Gingrich and his Republican Party to the political promised land back home."

On the May 27 Good Morning America, David Ensor scolded: "It's beginning to look as if the days when American partisan politics ended at the waters' edge may be over." Had Ensor forgotten when House Speaker Jim Wright wrote to Nicaraguan communist leader Daniel Ortega opposing U.S. policy in the 1980s? Perhaps a President's foreign policy is beyond reproach only when he's a Democrat.