MediaWatch: November 1997
Table of Contents:
Big Government Solutions
On the night of the October 23 White House conference on the child care "crisis," the three major networks generated public anxiety and rallied support for big government solutions. On NBC, Tom Brokaw began: "It is one of the fundamental changes in America: working mothers, and their most fundamental need is inadequate, inconsistent, expensive and getting more so all the time. It is child care...We begin with the promise of better times. It came from the President and Mrs. Clinton today."
At CBS, Dan Rather declared: "We turn now to this country’s most important investment and two stories that raise the question — who’s watching America’s children? The President and First Lady Hillary Clinton convened a conference today to address what they called ‘the silent crisis’ of American child care."
ABC’s Peter Jennings worried: "Anybody in the country who has small children and has to go to work is faced with a common problem and it doesn’t always matter whether you’re rich or poor. What do you do about getting the kind of quality child care that you think your family deserves. Which is why the First Lady decided today, it was necessary to have a debate." That’s funny: none of the networks included a single conservative counterpoint to the crusade.
All three networks recounted the plight of "victims" of inadequate government involvement in child care. ABC and NBC turned to possible models for change, both involving big government. On ABC, Michele Norris outlined the Clinton model as found in the United States military: "Each center must follow a long list of regulations that covers everything from surprise inspections to the size of each classroom."
NBC’s Tom Brokaw turned to France: "So, how does the United States, the most prosperous nation in the world, stack up against other nations when it comes to child care. Tonight, the French way. Jean Slayman is an American computer expert, married to a Frenchman, living in Paris with her two children. Her French experience tonight, in her own words."
But what of the high taxes used to pay for the system? Slayman explained: "People here don’t seem to be as upset about high taxes. For them, children are a priority."