In This Issue
Study: Coddling Democrats & Discrediting Republican; NewsBites: Putting Up Their Dues For Duke; Revolving Door: Reagan-Basher for Editor; Double Standard Evident in Coverage; Pro-Soviet Documentary Finds New Outlet; Bites of Quayle; Convention Quotables; Janet Cooke Award: Quayle Hunting: ABC News
Study: Coddling Democrats & Discrediting Republican
1) Labeling: During the Democratic convention, the networks use descriptive labels a total of 86 times. In New Orleans, Republicans were labeled 214 times. At the Atlanta convention, labels attached to Democrats were split: 52 percent liberal, and 48 percent moderate or conservative. During the GOP gathering, 15 percent of labels were "moderate" or "liberal," while 85 percent were "conservative," or harsher.
In a total of 49.5 hours of coverage in Atlanta, the networks identified Mike Dukakis as a "liberal" or "progressive" just 13 times, or approximately only every 3.8 hours.
Reporters lost such self restraint when it came to the GOP. On 182 occasions in New Orleans, the networks used the term "conservative," more than four times as often as they bothered to note the liberal views held by Democrats a month before.
Barraged viewers heard a conservative label used nearly four times an hour, about once every fifteen minutes. ABC's Lynn Sherr managed to issue a label six times in the space of just 30 seconds. "This is clearly being seen as a great night for the conservatives. But, the delegates here are much more conservative than the country as a whole," Sherr told Senator Thad Cochran on the second night. "But, it is a very conservative platform Senator and the country is not that conservative...Do you believe that by moving toward the right, by staying very conservative, that's the way to keep the Reagan Democrats in your column?"
The harshest descriptive adjective used on the Democrats was the term "liberal." But some reporters were not satisfied just labeling Republicans "conservative." Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite became quite creative, referring to "hard right conservatives," "hard rock conservatives," and "hard right people." CNN's Mary Tillotson smelled a "conservative odor" in the Superdome. Other terms used: "the religious right," "far right wing," and "right flank."
2) Controversies: The Republicans sent a truth squad to Atlanta hoping to prompt the networks to cover some of the many controversies plaguing Democrats and Dukakis. The networks didn't bite, but they didn't need any prompting to highlight controversies of the Reagan-Bush years.
CBS and NBC never once mentioned the ethical conduct questions surrounding House Speaker Jim Wright. ABC briefly raised the issue on two occasions and CNN only discussed the issue once during prime-time. Controversies dogging Dukakis in the months before the convention were completely ignored. Viewers heard nothing about the Dukakis policy or furloughing first degree murderers, his prison site controversy or criminal investigation of a high official in his administration. But in New Orleans, the networks had no problem focusing on Republican controversies such as the Iran-Contra affair, Noriega, the Bitburg cemetery flap, the Beirut bombing or the "Sleaze factor." These were highlighted a total of 32 times.
"In this hall tonight you'll hear nothing of Iran/Contra, or Meese, or Deaver, or Nofziger, or the tragedy in Beirut," NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw began coverage one night. In two nights, NBC highlighted the topics 14 times. NBC's Chris Wallace echoed the Dukakis campaign theme, asking Sen. Alfonse D'Amato "When George Bush talks about Michael Dukakis' inexperience in foreign policy, isn't it fair game for Dukakis to talk about Bush's experience in Panama, his experience in selling arms to the Ayatollah." Instead of airing the Reagan video the first night, ABC's Sam Donaldson talked about Bitburg, the "secret scheme to divert money to the Nicaraguan Contras," and the "sleaze factor."
Questions about Bush's choice of Senator Quayle as his running mate began as a trickle, but by the third night of the convention had practically become the sole concern. While no concrete proof existed about any impropriety in his military service or his involvement with the Washington lobbyist Paula Parkinson; the media, nonetheless, allowed the supposed controversies to dominate. CBS, CNN, and NBC interviews with Quayle focused almost exclusively on the two 14 percent of all the questions -- specifically concerned the issue of the lobbyist or his National Guard service. On another 33 occasions, reporters discussed the two controversies among themselves.
But the media held Quayle to a far different standard than they did his Democratic counterpart, Lloyd Bentson. The Texas Senator has plenty of interesting things in his background. Among them: his short lived policy of charging PACs $10,000 just to have breakfast with him. Even though Dukakis is running a "clean government campaign" and is trying to attract those "left behind by Reaganomics," Bentsen's huge PAC contributions because of his Finance Committee role did not stir reporters.
3) Questions posed: Reporters played devil's advocate at the Republican convention, but failed to at the Democratic conclave. The Republicans had already attacked Dukakis as a social liberal who is soft on crime and defense, but ABC, CBS, and CNN rarely raised these issues. In total, Republican agenda issues were raised in only 49 questions throughout the Democratic Convention.
NBC stood apart from the other networks by raising Republican concerns to the Democratic delegates. For example, Chris Wallace challenged Senator Al Gore: "You campaigned against Dukakis and your other opponents, saying they're soft on defense. Aren't Republicans this Fall going to be able to use that same argument?"
From day one of the Republican convention, network anchors and reporters echoed Democratic campaign themes and demanded Republicans respond. In total, reporters challenged Republicans on 128 occasions, two and one half times more often they did Democrats.
Some examples: Tom Brokaw demanded of Quayle: "You're opposed to abortion in any form. You also have opposed the ERA, and you're opposed to increasing the minimum wage, which is important to a lot of women out there. Aren't you going to have a hard time selling Dan Quayle to the women of this country?" A few days earlier, Brokaw went to the floor to get the views of three pro-abortion Congresswomen. CNN's Frank Sesno asked a black delegate one night: "Bush and Quayle opposed the extension of the Voting Rights Act -- or balked on it. And opposed Grove City. Two very large, important civil rights bills. How do they overcome that stigma within the minority community?"
4) Interviews: At both conventions the networks demonstrated a preference for liberals and moderates when it came to decide who to interview on air. In Atlanta the four networks aired 112 interviews with Senators, Congressmen, Mayors and Governors. The vast majority (76 percent) came from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, such as Mario Cuomo, Walter Mondale, and Ted Kennedy.
Despite the fact conservatives dominated the New Orleans convention, at least judging from the number of such labels the networks issued, less than two-thirds of those interviewed could be considered conservative. Among the politicians in this category: Senators Dole, Gramm, and Simpson. Seeking out the other side, 39 percent of those interviewed represented the more moderate or liberal wings, such as Senator Lowell Weicker, Congressman Silvio Conte, and New Jersey Governor Tom Kean.
ABC also gave plenty of time to Democrats to denounce the Republican efforts. Viewers heard from NAACP head Benjamin Hooks, Dukakis campaign chairman Paul Brountas and even Jesse Jackson. During the Democratic Convention, a brief ABC appearance by Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater was the only time anyone from the GOP got.
5) Value to voter: All the networks cut away from many major speeches at each convention, but CBS reporters and analysts spent the most time talking among themselves. Those wanting to see more had to watch C-SPAN.
CBS consistently refused to show any candidate videos shown at the conventions. The other three networks showed both the Dukakis and Bush videos. ABC refused to show the Reagan video at the Republican Convention, while NBC showed just three minutes of the 18 minute presentation. In Atlanta, both ABC and NBC ran the Jesse Jackson video. CNN did the opposite; airing the Reagan video, but not the Jackson one.
NewsBites: Putting Up Their Dues For Duke
Putting Up Their Dues for Duke. The Newspaper Guild, a union representing 25,000 reporters across the country, has endorsed Michael Dukakis for President. The Wire Services Guild, the local made up of AP and UPI reporters, however, abstained from the endorsement. The Newspaper Guild has a history of supporting liberal Democrats. In 1972 the union backed George McGovern and in 1984 it supported Walter Mondale. The question is, if reporters are trying to appear impartial, why do they continue to pay dues to such a politically active union?
Gender Gap Gap. All summer long viewers of TV network news repeatedly heard about Bush's "gender gap," the preference women showed for Dukakis over the Vice President in polls. For instance, back on June 8 CBS reporter Bob Schieffer devoted an entire story to how women are "a big problem for George Bush because" they "don't seem to like him much." Schieffer cited a CBS News/New York Times poll which found "women favor Dukakis overwhelmingly, 53 to 35 percentage points, what some call a 'gender gulch.'"
But when the Bush gender gap started disappearing, so did the issue from TV screens. A September 13 CBS News poll determined Bush led among women 43 to 41 percent.
Men preferred Bush by 53 to 37, nearly the identical margin Dukakis held with women in June. How did the CBS Evening News cover the Dukakis gender gap among men? Correspondent Lesley Stahl summarized the poll but didn't consider the Dukakis problem worthy of mention.
Accuracy Irrelevant. "George Bush dismissed as 'irrelevant' unemployment figures released by the Labor Department today" which found the rate rose 0.2 percent to 5.6 percent in August, NBC anchor Connie Chung stated on Nightly News. What did Bush really say about the September 2 development? ABC and CNN aired his comment in context: "More people are at work than at anytime in history, a greater percentage." Then plane noise drowned out some of his reaction, but quieted in time for viewers to hear, "statistically, almost irrelevant."
Taking Sides. Michael Dukakis wants to convince voters the Reagan Administration has created "low wage service jobs" at the expense of higher paying positions. In his quest he has at least one ally in the media: CBS economics correspondent Ray Brady. Since both are "twisting statistics," on the September 5 Evening News Brady reviewed the economic views of the two candidates: "Economists think both Bush and Dukakis are partially right. There have been millions of new jobs created since 1982, but many are in low paying service jobs." He then added: "One study found the number of $32,000 a year manufacturing jobs has been dropping."
In trying to boost the Dukakis view Brady did just what he accused the candidates of doing: "twisting statistics." As the usually liberal Robert Samulson explained in the September 19 Newsweek, "the job gap is fictitious." Federal figures show the number of jobs in the highest paying category has jumped 34 percent since 1982 while low paying jobs had fallen by six percent.
Bush War. In August questions were raised about the past mental health of Michael Dukakis. CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather complained about a "nastier campaign getting nastier" as his colleagues debated the ethics of repeating the unsubstantiated allegations. But less than two weeks later, Rather had no qualms about legitimizing a charge George Bush lied about his war experience. On August 12 the anchor announced:
"A squadron mate of George Bush during World War II spoke out today. He pointed out Bush has told different stories about the time his plane was shot down. Some newspaper accounts quote him as saying that Bush could have saved the lives of the crew members had he not decided to bail out. That's not exactly what he told CBS News."
The source for the story? An article in the New York Post, not an authority on which CBS often relies. Reporter Richard Schlesinger explained how charges made by Chester Mierzejewski that the Bush plane was not on fire when it went down contradict the effort to erase Bush's "wimp" image. Near the end of his piece Schlesinger noted "official Navy records back up Bush's version of events." Mierzejewski "denies any political motivation," Schlesinger assured viewers, "and says he doesn't know yet who he'll vote for." In contrast, CNN's Carl Rochelle questioned the allegations, while ABC and NBC refused to play a part in the story which just happened to break the Friday before the Republican National Convention.
One Shipyard, Three Spins. On September 6 George Bush was repeatedly booed and heckled by a crowd of Oregon shipyard workers. That's about all stories filed by ABC, CBS and NBC reporters that night agreed upon. On NBC Nightly News reporter Lisa Myers portrayed the confrontation as symbolic, concluding: "Bush has been having problems winning over blue collar Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan. If today's reception is any indication," she warned, "that task may be even more difficult than he thought."
ABC's Brit Hume came to the opposite determination: "Part of Bush's challenge has been to hold on to the votes of working people who voted for Ronald Reagan. He appeared to make few of any converts here today, but few of those here today said they'd ever voted for Reagan, or any other Republican." Hume also interviewed a worker who thought that by shouting back at taunters Bush "stuck up for himself." So, Hume concluded, the worker reacted just "as Bush strategists no doubt hope a nation seeing the TV pictures will."
Not so, according to Bob Schieffer of CBS who saw the day as a disaster for the Vice President. Schieffer declared: "At the Bush headquarters tonight an exasperated official said only, 'we are trying to figure out how this got on the schedule.'" It just shows how easy it is for reporters to use the same basic facts to support their preferred angle.
Revolving Door: Reagan-Basher for Editor
Reagan-Basher for Editor. U.S. News & World Report has moved decisively to the left. On September 1 Roger Rosenblatt replaced former Reagan aide David Gergen as Editor of the weekly news-magazine owned by Democratic Party donor Mortimer Zuckerman. Gergen "will expand his role as a writer" as Editor at Large.
As an analyst for CBS News during the Republican Convention Rosenblatt was asked to assess the Reagan Administration record. He declared: "I think it's a dangerous failure at least in terms of programs. A mess in Central America, neglect of the poor, corruption in government...And the worst legacy of all, the budget deficit, the impoverishment of our children."
Before joining U.S. News earlier this year, Rosenblatt spent eight years as a Senior Writer for Time, a couple of years writing editorials for The Washington Post, and served as Literary Editor of The New Republic. In the early 1970's he taught English at Harvard before becoming Director of Education for the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973.
Speaking of U.S. News. A few months ago Putnam published a disparaging review of Reagan foreign policy efforts, Secret Warriors: Inside the Covert Military Operations of the Reagan Era, written by Steven Emerson. A look at the book jacket flap reveals where the U.S. News & World Report Senior Editor formed his opinions. In the mid-1970's he worked as an investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later served as Executive Assistant to the late Senator Frank Church, a liberal Democrat.
Putting Up for the Duke. Finally, another U.S. News staffer with liberal connections is putting his beliefs into action. Associate editor Robert Shapiro is on leave from the magazine until at least November. Why? To try to elect Michael Dukakis President. His role: Deputy Director of Issues for the Dukakis for President Committee.
Shapiro's political preferences are well known. He was a 1972-73 Fellow with the radical left Institute for Policy Studies. Before moving to U.S. News in 1985, Shapiro served as Legislative Director for Senator Patrick Moynihan (D-NY).
Double Standard Evident in Coverage
In mid-August, Republicans from across America arrived in New Orleans to nominate George Bush as their candidate for President of the United States. But reporters for the four television networks repeatedly portrayed the Republicans as extreme and on the fringe of the American political spectrum. How? By incessantly labeling convention goers as conservative ideologues and attacking Republicans all they could--on issues including opposition to abortion, ERA, the plant closings bill, and the Civil Rights Restoration Act.
Looking at the Democratic Convention coverage a month earlier, a media double standard becomes evident. Reporters in Atlanta fawned over the Democrats and their policies. Viewers at home saw presidential nominee Michael Dukakis portrayed as a competent manager and political moderate, not an ideological liberal. In fact, network anchors and reporters labeled Michael Dukakis a moderate almost as often as they tagged him liberal. The networks avoided substance as much as possible. Any controversies surrounding the Democrats and criticism of Dukakis' liberal record were all but ignored.
To conduct the study, analysts evaluated ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC News coverage of the two political conventions in a variety of areas.
Key Findings of this MediaWatch Study:
-- Labeling -- Republicans got tagged two and a half times more often than Democrats.
-- Questions asked -- Republicans had to respond to Democratic agenda issues more than twice as often as Democrats were challenged with Republican themes.
-- Controversies -- From the frenzy over Quayle to the Iran/Contra affair, the networks had no trouble finding time to highlight Republican controversies. But in Atlanta, reporters were silent on events dogging Democrats.
Pro-Soviet Documentary Finds New Outlet
Turner Still Spinning His Portrait
In past issues, MediaWatch has reported on the continuing criticism of Ted Turner's seven-hour documentary series, "Portrait of the Soviet Union," aired in March on his Atlanta cable superstation WTBS. Washington Post television critic Tom Shales characterized the series as "a postcard from Binky and Biff at Camp Whitewash." The Soviet government, too, seemed embarrassed by the grandiose claims that Turner made in his series: when the series ran in the Soviet Union, authorities tagged it with a disclaimer which stated that the film gave an excessively glamorous portrait of the country and failed to reflect the self-criticism currently underway.
Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation dropped plans to market the series to U.S. school systems amid the public debate, claiming they found insufficient interest in the series to warrant a full scale marketing effort.
But none of this deterred Turner from finding new ways to disseminate his views. Turner Program Services, the syndication arm of Turner Broadcasting, just completed a barter syndication effort to the nation's television stations. In all, 125 have run or will run the series in the near future. Included in the list are independents in the ten largest media markets. Among them: WPIX-TV (New York), KCOP-TV (Los Angeles), WGBO-TV (Chicago), WLVI-TV (Boston), and WTTG-TV (Washington, DC).
Most of the program or station managers contacted by MediaWatch were unaware of the criticism surrounding the series, and seemed unconcerned that the series relayed pro-Soviet propaganda which distorted Soviet history. Said Steve Friedheim, Station Manger of WGBO in Chicago: "I never screened it. There was a fairly large interest. As far as its accuracy with Soviet history I have no idea."
But at least one television official in a major market expressed concern for the criticism the series received. WTTG Program Director Glenn Dyer said that he had been unaware of the controversy generated by the series but asked about possible imbalance: "The fact that Turner had cooperated with the Soviet Union you know you're going to get a little biased portrait. We knew that going in. But we were told that 3 of the 7 hours (with anti-Soviet sentiment) were not allowed to be broadcast by Soviet authorities in the Soviet Union." That apparently settled some of Dyers qualms with the series and WTTG decided to run it. Turner, though, misled WTTG-TV. The entire series aired unedited in the Soviet Union.
Bites of Quayle
During the August 23 Nightline Ted Koppel drove home the media's case against the Indiana Senator: "Quayle and his supporters throw a protective arm around the National Guard as though the institution itself were under attack. It, of course, is not. He and his apparent mediocrity and hypocrisy are."
On the Op-ed page of the September 1 Wall Street Journal NBC News President Michael Gartner offered his assessment of Quayle: "His academic record is mediocre, his memory (just how did he get into the National Guard?) is mediocre, his honesty (he fudged his resume) is mediocre and his judgement (who would go off on a golfing weekend, however innocent, with two pals and a female lobbyist?)is mediocre."
"The fact of the matter is that I've always said that I.Q. is a small part of the political world," San Francisco Examiner Washington reporter Christopher Matthews charged on the Sept. 17 McLaughlin Group. Matthews went on to blast Quayle: "The minute he speaks his own mind, he reminds us of why Lady Di isn't allowed to talk, the guy has nothing to say and when he speaks it's frightening."
Referring to a couple misstatements Quayle made, Matthews claimed: "He apparently doesn't know the Holocaust occurred off this continent, he thinks it occurred on this continent. He doesn't know it occurred in this century...He explains his military policy in Europe on the basis of what Bobby Knight believes. What can he do? Can he talk or think? Which one can he do?"
Just a few days before CBS This Morning viewers saw Matthews, identified only as the show's "political columnist," smirk and snicker through a report he delivered on the same subject. CBS, however, failed to warn its audience that Matthews is a former top aide to retired House Speaker Tip O'Neill.
Media overkill provoked a response from Washington Post Ombudsman Richard Harwood who sharply criticized the staff of his paper. "We had insufficient hard evidence at the beginning to justify the excessive coverage that emanated from New Orleans. We were late in working the records offices and officers in both Indiana and the Pentagon. As a result, we published tentative and contradictory information and hearsay," he wrote.
In an internal memo obtained by The Washington Times, he continued: "It was not an issue in the presidential campaigns of Gephardt, Hart, or Biden. It has not been made an issue in the case of Dukakis who found refuge at Swathmore while tens of thousands of World War II veterans were called back to pump it through the paddies and mountains of Korea."
Most Americans agreed. A Gallup Poll found 55 percent believed news organizations treated Quayle unfairly.
Maybe they agreed with what Senator Alan Simpson concluded: "What is really hypocrisy, as I hear that word bandied about, is to watch some pontifical powdered poop asking Dan Quayle questions and know that that person was hiding out during the Vietnam war carrying a Viet Cong flag."
ABC's Jeff Greenfield, July 19: "Dukakis is basing his presidential campaign on the argument...a rational, competent manager is what this country needs. Friend, foe, or neutral almost all agree that this is the kind of presidency Michael Dukakis would bring to the White House."
CBS' Charles Kuralt on a liberal delegate to the Republican Convention, August 17: "He's against outlawing abortion, he's against President Reagan's Star Wars defense, he worries about the poor and homeless...Nine delegates to this convention describe themselves as liberals....Harold Fergiss: a lonely, rather brave figure out there on Canal Street. Symbol of the kind of Republican that once was, but almost isn't anymore."
ABC's Sam Donaldson on the Bush acceptance speech, August 18: "Bush distorted Dukakis' record liberally...He said Dukakis would deprive everyone of a handgun. Gun control Dukakis is for, but he's never said that. He suggested Dukakis was the one who didn't want voluntary prayer to be said in the school. But of course it's the Supreme Court of the United States who said that. He said Dukakis is preaching an America in decline, but in fact Dukakis has very carefully not said that. He said just the opposite."
Janet Cooke Award: Quayle Hunting: ABC News
"Did he or did he not at the height of the Vietnam War get the kind of help not available to many young men of his age in order to join the National Guard? Did he evade the draft to avoid Vietnam or did he fulfill his military service in an honorable way?" So asked Peter Jennings in opening ABC's World News Tonight on August 18, two days after Vice President Bush selected Senator Dan Quayle as his running mate. But the media already had their answer, and the rampage was on.
Though numerous network stories distorted Quayle's record in a number of areas, two ABC News stories receive the September Janet Cooke Award for being the least fair in covering the Vice Presidential nominee: Judd Rose on the August 18 Nightline and John Martin on the August 24 World News Tonight.
Ted Koppel launched the August 18 Nightline with more than just a factual account of the day's events: "Why did a hardline conservative and Vietnam hawk choose the National Guard over service in Vietnam? And did family connections make that choice possible?" Rose then dismissed Bush's masterful acceptance speech, declaring: "The convention and nomination were his, but it didn't matter. Once again George Bush was being overshadowed by someone else." A short time later, he reported -- erroneously -- that an ex-National Guardsman called the Guard on behalf of Quayle to get him "ahead of the waiting list."
Next, Rose allowed liberal Washington Post columnist Haynes Johnson to deliver the final blow to Quayle: "He's a person who presents himself as an ardent anti-communist, strong on defense, an expert in all these areas, strong defender of the Vietnam War who it appears got out of service in the war by favoritism, power, privilege, and political advantage." Rose gave time to Senators Bob Dole and John McCain to defend Quayle, but not to rebut Johnson's powerful image of an elitist draft-dodger.
In his conclusion Rose was already spelling doom for the two day old Republican ticket: "George Bush leaves New Orleans to the sounds of cheering, but it may have a hollow ring soon enough. History's shown when a candidate becomes an issue it can be damaging and even fatal to a campaign. Well Dan Quayle has become an issue and he's made Bush an issue too. This, after all, was Bush's first and biggest decision on his own. And the way it turned out has hardly enhanced his image as a leader."
Both Koppel and Jeff Greenfield continued the rampage. Greenfield characterized the debate over Quayle as one of "elitism." Koppel added: "Jeff Greenfield used the term elitism, let me use another term, how about 'hypocrisy.'"
Less than one week later, conclusive proof showed that the Indiana Guard was not operating at full force at the time and that Quayle in fact used no special privilege to enter the National Guard. But Judd Rose, in a conversation with MediaWatch defended his segment, claiming: "I don't think the facts have borne out yet. But that's a political judgment... There was a frenzied atmosphere that day. In that atmosphere sometimes things go into extremes. In my case, though, I don't think that was the case."
Asked whether the Quayle focus might be created by a media unsympathetic to the conservative cause, Rose excused himself but indicted some of his colleagues: "You say a lot of reporters are trying to crucify George Bush and conservatives. That may be true. But that's not this reporter."
After Quayle was vindicated on all counts, most media outlets called it quits. ABC's Richard Threlkeld even delivered a half hearted apology for the media's over-indulgence. On August 24, he admitted that reporting had been "inconsistent" and that "there were in fact vacancies in Quayle's National Guard unit when he joined and no waiting list, suggesting favoritism played no crucial part in Quayle's enlistment." Added Threlkeld: "Some of the reporting has involved things about Quayle that seem less than front page news: what about that weekend with some golfing buddies and the female lobbyist, how low were his grades in college, did he have to talk his way into law school, is all of this getting to be too much. Maybe so."
But just a few minutes earlier in profiling the Indiana Senator ABC's John Martin reported on everything Threlkeld labeled "less than front page news." Martin told MediaWatch that it was his job to find out "Who Dan Quayle is?" What kind of person did he find? Martin characterized Quayle as a "young man...of ease and pleasure" and someone who "with family help ...avoided jobs and situations he didn't like." Martin repeated the well worn and false media line on the Guard situation, asserting: "Faced with the probability of being drafted, he sought help from people in high places, starting with his grandfather's newspaper."
Even more significant, Martin distorted what at least one source told him, charging that former Indianapolis News Editor M. Stanton Evans was yet another of the many high placed family friends who helped Quayle get ahead in life, this time by landing him a job in the Indiana Attorney General's office. According to Evans, however, in the course of a ten minute interview he emphatically told ABC that at no time did Dan Quayle or his father ever ask him to pull any strings on their behalf.
But Martin carefully selected a ten second clip from Evans' statement that would -- intentionally -- give viewers the exact opposite message. Reinforcing his theme, he declared: "This wasn't unusual for Indiana, where political families can win favors."
Evans explained to MediaWatch: "It is very clear they picked what they could out of the interview to document a preconceived thesis of Dan Quayle as a child of privilege...It was a direct contradiction of ABC's own guidelines which say that editing...[must] reflect the spirit, tone, and reality of the interview....And that is just a basic rule of journalistic integrity."
Why didn't Martin take a few seconds to explain Evans' interpretation of the event in question? Apparently, because Martin simply disagreed. He told MediaWatch: "What did Stan Evans do as a favor. He sat down with him and advised him. Those are his [Evans'] words. He chose to say it's not a favor ...Dan Quayle was able to turn to him. To me that was evidence that he turned to people for help." Martin added: "[Evans] was upset that we didn't air his opinion. The relevant point is that the story never said Evans pulled strings." But that's just the picture he painted. How else could viewers interpret Martin's conclusion: "So now a young man who got a long way in life on the kindness and power of family and friends must now convince voters he is qualified to be Vice President, only a step away from the presidency."