Jennings: "Why Not" Apologize?; ABC Focused on "Deep Cuts" But FNC Noted They Amount to 0.02%; ABC Raised Bias Over Dirkhising
1) ABC's Mark Litke on Tuesday night pointed out how China never apologized for "the brutality of the cultural revolution" in which "many were tortured and killed." Peter Jennings, however, soon put the burden back on the U.S. as he asserted that "some Americans say if an apology would free the Navy crew, why not?"
3) CBS and NBC skipped the Bush budget on Tuesday morning, but ABC's Antonio Mora bemoaned its "deep cuts" and highlighted how an ABC News poll found 52 percent "prefer no tax cut and more health services for the uninsured." FNC's Carl Cameron noted how Bush's cuts amount to a mere 0.02 percent of the total budget.
4) ABC devoted its "A Closer Look" segment on Tuesday night to charges of media bias in obsessing over Matthew Shepard while ignoring the Jesse Dirkhising case. Naturally, ABC concluded there was no bias. But in making that point reporter Aaron Brown reflected the very bias conservatives see: "In Shepard, the issue was hate crime laws and whether they should extend to gays. In Dirkhising, the media saw a terrible crime but no larger issue."
From Beijing, Litke provided a World News
Tonight story on various levels of apologies recognized in Chinese
society, but he also pointed out in the April 10 piece:
Immediately after Litke's report aired,
anchor Peter Jennings turned to Terry Moran at the White House:
"Terry, I know the White House says the Navy jet did nothing wrong
and there's no reason to apologize, but some Americans say if an apology
would free the Navy crew, why not? What's the White House
Clintonian reasoning expressed by Geraldo Rivera on the China situation. Right or wrong, "does that really matter?"
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this exchange on CNBC's Rivera Live on Monday night, April 9, between Rivera and Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, a former National Security Council staffer.
Soderberg: "And I think the Bush
administration has to stand firm, say, 'We're not going to apologize.
Return our plane. Return our men and women on that plane. They deserve to
be home. They've been there too long'. And ultimately the Chinese are
gonna have to blink first. And it's just a question of how to let them
Tuesday morning neither CBS's The Early Show or NBC's Today touched the release of Bush's budget which had so animated the networks on Monday night with concern about its many "cuts" in programs. ABC's Good Morning America, however, did advance the liberal spin as news reader Antonio Mora bemoaned "deep cuts" proposed by Bush and highlighted how an ABC News poll found 52 percent "prefer no tax cut and more health services for the uninsured."
FNC's Carl Cameron reported a budget number on Tuesday night ignored by the other networks as he pointed out how Bush's $4.9 billion in cuts in a $1.96 trillion budget amount to a piddling reduction of two tenths of one percent, hardly a "deep" cut.
During the 7am newscast on the April 10 Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, ABC news reader Antonio Mora announced: "The stage is set for a battle over President Bush's budget. His plan calls for increased spending in education and medical research, but deep cuts in scores of other programs has some lawmakers preparing for a fight. The President seems ready for them. Here's ABC's Terry Moran."
Moran's piece closely matched what aired the
night before on World News Tonight as Moran questioned only the proposed
cuts and not the proposed spending hikes. He began: "Meeting with his
Cabinet to roll out his budget, the President struck a combative
An hour later, during the 8am news update,
Mora summarized Moran's piece before relaying how a poll found the
public prefers more spending to a tax cut:
The poll commissioned by ABCNews.com, and so not done with the Washington Post, was not mentioned Monday or Tuesday night on World News Tonight but is featured on the ABCNews.com Web site under the headline, "Health Trumps Taxes: Most Would Rather Insure Poor Than Get Cash Back."
Gary Langer opened the April 9-posted recitation of the poll results: "Most Americans would prefer to have the federal government spend more on health care for the uninsured than to see it cut their own income taxes, another sign of the relatively low priority the public gives to tax reduction."
Those surveyed were apparently only asked one question: "In an ABCNEWS.com poll, 52 percent say they'd rather have the government spend more on health care for the uninsured than see it cut their taxes. And only 10 percent favor reducing these health services in order to pay for a tax cut."
Langer proceeded to lay out skewed facts about Bush cuts without any context that his budget actually increases health care spending, a set of facts to which respondents probably reacted: "President Bush's budget, released today, would cut a $125 million grant program that coordinates the development of community health centers for the uninsured. At the same time, it would create a $2,000 per-year tax credit to help uninsured people buy health insurance."
Langer was pleased with the "altruism" of those who put more spending ahead of a tax cut: "There's some altruism in this poll's result, since only about 15 percent of adults lack health insurance. But there's also some self-interest: Spending more on health care for the uninsured is most popular by far among low-income people, who are more likely to be uninsured and less likely to get a big tax cut. And it's least popular in top-income households, whose tax cut would be the fattest."
To read all of Langer's article on the ABC
poll, go to:
Tuesday night, on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, reporter Carl Cameron put the budget in some perspective. Cameron explained that 65 percent of the budget goes to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security and is labeled "non-discretionary" since it is set by law to follow payout formulas, which leaves 35 percent for all the rest of the federal government. Of that 35 percent, nearly half goes to defense, leaving just 19 percent for "discretionary" federal spending and it is within that 19 percent that all of Bush's cuts occur, though Bush's budget hikes discretionary spending overall by four percent as 15 agencies would grow while 10 would face cuts.
Cameron put the cuts into context: "The total dollar figure for the actual cuts that President Bush is proposing is about $4.9 billion dollars. In the context of an overall $1.96 trillion budget, that is two tenths of one percent. Critics, however, say that Bush is planning to slow the rate of growth in a number of other projects, effectively not keeping pace with inflation and, therefore, becoming the equivalent of cuts, not the four percent increases that President Bush claims."
Jesse Dirkhising, the 13-year-old Arkansas boy raped and murdered by two gay men, finally made broadcast network news on Tuesday. ABC's World News Tonight devoted its "A Closer Look" segment to his case and the conservative complaint about how the major media decision to dedicate massive coverage to the case of Matthew Shepard, the murdered gay college student, while ignoring Dirkhising, reflected liberal media bias, though ABC never uttered the phrase "liberal media bias."
ABC ran two pieces totaling a lengthy, by evening news standards, nearly five-and-a-half minutes on the case until now only covered by the Fox News Channel and AP. Naturally, it was not the focus on the bias from conservatives which prompted ABC's story, but the column a couple of weeks ago by gay writer Andrew Sullivan. In the New Republic he conceded: "Difficult as it may be to admit, some of the gay-baiting right's argument about media bias holds up....The Dirkhising case was ignored for political reasons: squeamishness about reporting a story that could feed anti-gay prejudice."
For an excerpt from Sullivan's column and details of how the networks all ignored the conviction of one of the men charged: http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010323.asp#4 
For more background on media coverage of the case and links to the MRC's 1999 analysis of the lack of coverage when the Dirkhising murder occurred, go to: http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010319.asp#6 
On the April 10 World News Tonight, anchor Peter Jennings admitted the obvious: "There are many journalists, including people on this broadcast, who feel very strongly that this case in itself did not merit national attention." Jennings then adopted Sullivan's anti-conservative concern for "anti-gay prejudice" as Jennings asked of the Dirkhising case: "Was it a case of bias? Was it not reported lest it feed anti-gay prejudice?" How about lest it damage the media's pro-liberal gay rights agenda prejudice?
While ABC News gave air time to conservative columnist Don Feder to forward the media bias charge, not surprisingly, ABC concluded there was no bias. But in making that point reporter Aaron Brown reflected the very bias conservatives see. He declared: "In Shepard, the issue was hate crime laws and whether they should extend to gays. In Dirkhising, the media saw a terrible crime but no larger issue."
Exactly. As if the media had no role in making Shepard part of a larger topic. The media turned the vicious Shepard murder into a martyr for a liberal cause which then in itself justified more coverage.
Brown soon revealed how ingrained the bias is as he called the controversy over the coverage "remarkable" since "it centers on a news decision that for most of the national media was easy and logical and routine."
Now to the top of ABC's April 10 stories for a more thorough rundown. Jennings introduced the segment, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Our subject tonight is the media, and murder, and accusations of bias. There has been quite a furor recently, among conservatives particularly, that the gruesome killing of a teenage boy in Arkansas didn't get national attention because the two men accused of the murder were gay. The complaint has been, and it's been quite persistent, that much of the media ignored the case in which the accused were gay but paid enormous attention to the case of a young gay man named Matthew Shepard who was murdered in 1998, you may remember, in Wyoming. Now, news coverage is not a science, but in this case we were struck by the accusations of bias. And so we decided to take A Closer Look."
First, from Arkansas, reporter Erin Hayes filled in viewers about the 1999 crime for which Joshua Brown and Davis Carpenter were charged and for which Brown recently received a life sentence. Carpenter's trial starts in May. Hayes noted how feces were found on the floor of the house, how Dirkhising was bound and raped for five hours and was drugged before he choked to death. She added: "Prosecutors also say Carpenter had his eye on other children. In Carpenter's apartment they discovered handwritten short stories, explicit, horrifying writings envisioning future rapes and torture."
Next, Jennings set up a look at the charge of media bias: "And the case, as we said, was not widely reported. There are many journalists, including people on this broadcast, who feel very strongly that this case in itself did not merit national attention. We don't report many gruesome crimes. But was it a case of bias? Was it not reported lest it feed anti-gay prejudice? Here's ABC's Aaron Brown."
Brown began: "To the protesters gathered
outside the courthouse in Bentonville, Arkansas, it is simple: The
national media, sympathetic to gays, will not report on any evil gays
Yes indeed. "What's so remarkable about this debate" is that it demonstrates how liberal media bias is "easy and logical and routine" for the national media.
ABC's message board forum for World News
Tonight is focused today on Dirkhising coverage. Go to:
That's it for today's nearly all ABC News issue. --Brent Baker 
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