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ABCNews.com Pushes Abortion Agenda, But on Air Notes Clark's... --1/23/2004


1. ABCNews.com Pushes Abortion Agenda, But on Air Notes Clark's...
ABC on Thursday night gave a rare few seconds of air time to how Wesley Clark recently said that he supports abortion until the moment of birth, but as ABC News programs ignored the Thursday march to mark the 31st anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision, the ABCNews.com Web site on Thursday featured two original stories on abortion, both from the pro-abortion/anti-pro-life agenda. "'Christian Terrorists': Anti-Abortionist Calls for Violence, Says It Is Religious Duty," proclaimed the headline over one story. "A Global Abortion War" announced the headline over the second. The headline inside: "Critics Say United States Is Exporting a Vitriolic Battle." The caption for a photo up top of an unidentified African woman conveyed the flavor of the story: "A U.S. rule on family planning aid is adversely affecting women across Africa and Asia, some health professionals say."

2. ABC's Nightline Knocks Down Gumbel's Claim of Klan Influence
ABC's Nightline undermined Bryant Gumbel's premise blaming overt racism for why a black high school football player in Rome, Georgia was charged with sexual assault against a younger white student. Dave Marash played a clip of Bryant Gumbel claiming on his HBO sports magazine show that the Georgia town is "a place where the KKK still has a presence." But not even the lawyer for the guy charged bought that: "Over the top because the Klan has not marched in Rome in over ten years."

3. Month-by-Month Rundown of the Media's Liberal Bias in 2003
On Thursday, the MRC released a Special Report, "Still Liberal, Still Biased: How Big Media Helped the Left and Hurt the Right in 2003." For it, the MRC's Rich Noyes and Tim Graham examined coverage of two issues each month during 2003 and they documented how on contentious issues, with a liberal/conservative split, broadcast network coverage framed in the issues in favor of the liberal side and thus puts the conservative position at a disadvantage.

4. "Top Ten Ways I, Howard Dean, Can Turn Things Around"
As presented by Howard Dean, Letterman's "Top Ten Ways I, Howard Dean, Can Turn Things Around."


ABCNews.com Pushes Abortion Agenda, But
on Air Notes Clark's...

ABC on Thursday night gave a rare few seconds of air time to how Wesley Clark recently said that he supports abortion until the moment of birth, but as ABC News programs ignored the Thursday march to mark the 31st anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision, the ABCNews.com Web site on Thursday featured two original stories on abortion, both from the pro-abortion/anti-pro-life agenda.

"'Christian Terrorists': Anti-Abortionist Calls for Violence, Says It Is Religious Duty," proclaimed the headline over one story. "A Global Abortion War" announced the headline over the second of ABC's two online abortion stories. The subhead: "Critics Say United States Is Exporting a Vitriolic Battle; Supporters Disagree -- and the Squabble Continues." That story featured a photo up top of an unidentified African woman with the caption which conveyed the flavor of the story: "A U.S. rule on family planning aid is adversely affecting women across Africa and Asia, some health professionals say."

Back to Wesley Clark, for the first time I can recall seeing or hearing on any broadcast network evening show, in a Thursday round up for World News Tonight on the activities of the Democratic presidential candidates, Kate Snow picked up on a question Clark got a press conference earlier in the day: "Clark continues to cite his inexperience as an asset, but today he seemed to struggle when asked why he told a New Hampshire newspaper he supports abortion until the moment of birth."
Clark: "Well, I stand with the established settled law, Roe v Wade and Casey. And it's a doctor's decision exactly when viability begins."
Snow: "Some of his aides are cringing at what they see as rookie mistakes."

Snow then moved on to Joe Lieberman's day.

Snow was referring to a Clark interview with The Union Leader of Manchester. An excerpt from the top of the January 8 article by John DiStaso, whom you may recognize as one of the questioners at Thursday night's debate:

Democrat Wesley Clark said yesterday he would never appoint a pro-life judge to the federal bench because the judge's anti-abortion views would render him unable to follow the established judicial precedent of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The Presidential candidate also told The Union Leader that until the moment of birth, the government has no right to influence a mother's decision on whether to have an abortion.

"Life," he said, "begins with the mother's decision."

The retired four-star general said he will discern a prospective judge's position on abortion not with a litmus test, but by reading his previous decisions to ensure that the judge has never upset existing judicial precedent.

"I don't believe people whose ideological agenda is to burn the law or remake the law or reshape it should be appointed whether they are from either side," he said during an interview with editors and a reporter....

Regarding his own views on abortion, Clark said, "I'm not going to get into a discussion of when life begins. I'm in favor of choice, period. Pure and simple.

"I don't think you should get the law involved in abortion," he said. "It's between a woman, her doctor, her faith and her family and her conscience. You don't put the law in there."...

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: www.theunionleader.com

MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed the agenda of the two original, ABCNews.com staff written articles on the ABCNews.com home page on Thursday afternoon, and submitted a draft of an item for CyberAlert about it:

For the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, ABC News chose to cast the pro-life movement in the most negative slant it could scrounge up on its Web site, and completely ignore it all together on the air the night before, morning of and day of, the annual March for Life.

On Thursday afternoon, the top headline on ABCNews.com read: "In God's Name." It linked to an article headlined, "'Christian Terrorists': Anti-Abortionist Calls for Violence, Says It Is Religious Duty," which highlighted the bizarre rantings of Chuck Spingola on the Army of God Web site and the few people on the farthest fringe of the pro-life movement. ABC's Dean Schabner opened his piece: "An anti-abortion activist, calling for a new wave of violence against clinics and doctors, is following the example of violent Islamic fundamentalists, telling those who share his views to become 'Christian terrorists' and promising them a reward in Heaven."

Schabner went to sources such as Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, who claimed: "The hard-liners have become more and more hard-line, and I think they've lost most of their appeal even with the Christian right, which might share some of their views." As if Spingola and any of the handful of nutcases supporting violence against abortion providers bear any relation to mainstream pro-lifers.

Even though Schabner had to note that "extreme violence against abortion providers has dropped sharply over the last two years," he still felt it notable that "there has been no decline in the harassment of doctors and staff at clinics and women visiting clinics," according to the unlabeled National Abortion Foundation. For Schabner's entire article: abcnews.go.com

The second loaded piece by Leela Jacinto took on the "Mexico City Policy" reinstated by President Bush when he first came into office, which prohibits aid to foreign groups that promote abortion. "A Global Abortion War" began: "It was a decision Nirmal Bista never really wanted to make: a choice between money and principles, shutting up or sticking it out, and most harrowingly, one that involved the lives -- and potential deaths -- of millions of his countrywomen." The posted article featured a photo of an unidentified African woman with the caption: "A U.S. rule on family planning aid is adversely affecting women across Africa and Asia, some health professionals say."

Those "health professionals" turn out to be from pro-abortion groups such as the Margaret Sanger Center International at Planned Parenthood of New York City and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Jacinto contended: "While there is a consensus across ideological divides that abortion is a horrible business, a number of women's rights groups accuse the United States of exporting one of its most contentious conflicts abroad, where the realities are far removed from the ideological rift tearing America." So blame Bush and pro-lifers for these women dying from abortions around the world. For Jacinto's piece in full: www.abcnews.go.com

As of Thursday night, both stories were still on the ABCNews.com home page's list of headlines, though they had moved down a bit and were paired on one line with an AP dispatch on the protest march: "Call to Arms for 'Christian Terrorists' | Global Fight | Protest"

ABC's Nightline Knocks Down Gumbel's
Claim of Klan Influence

ABC's Nightline undermined Bryant Gumbel's premise blaming overt racism for why a black high school football player in Rome, Georgia was charged with sexual assault against a younger white student. The case of Marcus Dixon has received widespread media coverage, with all the networks running stories, because of claims that he never would have been charged if his victim was white and not black and since some jurors have expressed outrage that Dixon received a mandatory ten-year prison sentence despite the fact they found him not guilty on the most serious charges.

Wednesday night, Nightline looked at the case and Dave Marash played a clip of Bryant Gumbel claiming on his HBO sports magazine show that the Georgia town is "a place where the KKK still has a presence." But not even Dixon's lawyer bought that: "Over the top because the Klan has not marched in Rome in over ten years."

The relevant segment of the January 21 Nightline caught by the MRC's Jessica Anderson:
Marash: "There were no other witnesses -- only the principals knew the true story -- but outlines of case suggested some simplified possibilities."
Fred Simpson, defense attorney: "The system, the D.A.'s office, the court system possibly, the police saw in this case what they expected to see. You have a huge black athlete, so much bigger than this little white girl, and I think that their mind formed a stereotype and they automatically assumed that Marcus [Dixon] was guilty."
Bryant Gumbel, narrating on HBO's Real Sports: "Rome, Georgia is still struggling with the kind of racial issues that many southern towns have already laid to rest. It's a place where the KKK still has a presence."
Marash: "But stereotypes cut both ways. HBO's Real Sports saw Dixon as trapped by the prejudices of an old-line white southern town. Even Dixon's defense attorney thought this was-"
Simpson: "Over the top because the Klan has not marched in Rome in over ten years."
Where was Marash during all the years when Gumbel was making ridiculous claims on NBC and CBS?

Then again, a place where the Klan was still around a few as ten years ago, does raise some worries.

Month-by-Month Rundown of the Media's
Liberal Bias in 2003

On Thursday, the MRC released a Special Report, "Still Liberal, Still Biased: How Big Media Helped the Left and Hurt the Right in 2003." For it, the MRC's Rich Noyes and Tim Graham examined coverage of two issues each month during 2003 and they documented how on contentious issues, with a liberal/conservative split, broadcast network coverage framed in the issues in favor of the liberal side and thus put the conservative position at a disadvantage.

As a campaign year begins, this suggests that despite much liberal complaining about a conservative media, the most-watched media outlets will again provide an advantage to liberal policies and candidates.

The Executive Summary:

According to a growing number of journalists, the media's liberal bias -- a trait that most reporters refuse to acknowledge -- is no longer a problem. Pointing to the commercial success of conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, plus the Fox News Channel's dominance of cable TV, many media liberals insist the news industry has all of the fairness and balance it needs.

"It took conservatives a lot of hard and steady work to push the media rightward. It dishonors that work to continue to presume that -- except for a few liberal columnists -- that there is any such thing as the big liberal media," Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne argued late in 2002. Dionne, formerly a top political reporter for both the Post and the New York Times, asserted that the media are actually "heavily biased toward conservative politics and conservative politicians."

But as a new election year begins, the news organizations who truly dominate the media landscape -- such as the Big Three broadcast networks and influential papers like the New York Times -- remain what they have been for decades: allies of liberalism and enemies of conservative policies. All last year, Media Research Center analysts documented the media's coverage of a variety of social and political issues, and found that the Big Media in 2003 reliably reflected the liberal mentality that Dionne and others argued was a thing of the past:

-- Economic Policy: All year, the media waged a campaign against taxpayers while pushing for ever-expanding government spending. TV gave three times more airtime to liberal arguments against President Bush's tax cuts than conservative rebuttals, emphasizing how "big" and "huge" those cuts were. But when the subject was a much larger federal handout for senior citizens, the same network correspondents found critics who charged the giveaway of at least $400 billion was "still not enough."

-- Foreign Policy: The media showered skepticism on the elected defenders of American liberty, not the tyrants and terrorists who threatened us. Before the war in Iraq, journalists such as ABC's Peter Jennings advertised their open hostility to President Bush's policies. During the war, NBC had to fire one of its correspondents for appearing on enemy-controlled Iraqi TV to declare the "failure" of the American war plan. After the war, journalists equated the alleged "quagmire" in Iraq to the failed U.S. effort in Vietnam two generations ago. The networks delighted in bad news -- on the day of Saddam's capture, Jennings pessimistically declared that "there's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment."

-- Social Issues: The media marginalized believers in traditional values and celebrated the counter-morality of secular progressives. On the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, TV virtually ignored the well-attended annual March for Life. Supreme Court reporters contrasted "conservatives" with those supporting "gay rights," as if conservatives are against "rights." The networks also portrayed Gene Robinson, the first gay Episcopalian bishop, as a courageous pioneer.

-- Politics: The media showed extreme reluctance to portray liberal Democrats as ideologues and revealed their double-standard on character issues. Although his presidential campaign is based on absolute opposition to the war in Iraq and reinstating the high tax rates of the Clinton era, numerous journalists rejected the notion that Howard Dean is liberal. As the California recall approached, reporters like Tom Brokaw -- who refused to detail Juanita Broaddrick's sexual assault charges against Bill Clinton -- hypocritically confronted Arnold Schwarzenegger with last-minute groping allegations. "In many states, what you did would be criminal," Brokaw lectured the GOP candidate.

The following month-by-month review shows how liberal bias contaminated the coverage of the major news stories of 2003, even as so many reporters continue to deny such bias exists. As the 2004 presidential campaign gets underway, the media elite -- the Big Three networks, CNN, major newspapers and newsmagazines, wire services and taxpayer-subsidized public broadcasting - will surely be the Democrats' greatest asset, as they twist their stories to boost liberals and thwart conservatives.

END of Reprint of Executive Summary

For the full report in HTML, broken into sub-sections: www.mediaresearch.org

For the report in one unit as an Adobe Acrobat PDF: www.mediaresearch.org

Exclusive to CyberAlert, Rich Noyes provided this month-by-month rundown of the two key findings for each month:

January:

+ Reporters Push Spin of Anti-Tax Cut Liberals: Media Research Center analysts studied all 28 tax cut stories on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from January 2 through January 15, 2003, the two weeks surrounding President Bush's proposal for new tax cuts to stimulate the economy. The study found that news stories gave three times more airtime to liberal arguments against the tax cuts than conservative arguments for it.

+ TV Treats Pro-Life Marchers as Irrelevant: ABC, CBS and NBC practically ignored the well-attended March for Life held on January 23, 2003, the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. In stark contrast, those same networks heaped publicity on Bush-bashing anti-war protests held just four days earlier, extolling the diversity and idealism of the left-wing demonstrators.

February:

+ Peter Jennings Emphasizes Anti-War Voices: Although all of the broadcast networks portrayed protesters from the anti-war Left as respectable and mainstream, ABC's Peter Jennings was the most supportive of their message, and he routinely tilted his newscast in favor of their complaints.

+ Dan Rather Panders to Saddam Hussein: During his hour-long interview with Saddam shown on 60 Minutes II February 26, the CBS anchorman gave the murderous dictator more respect than he has offered to some elected American leaders. Rather politely referred to the dictator as "Mr. President," and sat quietly as Saddam repeated the absurdity that he had received 100 percent of the vote in Iraqi "elections."

March:

+ Peter Arnett Comforts a Dying Dictatorship: As he had a dozen years earlier during the first Gulf War when he worked for CNN, Peter Arnett's reporting from Baghdad consisted of transmitting the propagandistic claims of Iraqi officials without a trace of professional skepticism. Arnett, whose reporting aired on NBC and MSNBC, ended up being fired after he appeared on Saddam-controlled Iraqi TV and pronounced the U.S. war plan a failure.

+ Reporters Worry They Are Too Pro-Bush: Reporters criticized each other for failing to demolish President Bush's arguments for confronting Iraq during a prime time press conference on March 6. ABC's Terry Moran complained that his brethren looked "like zombies," although a review shows reporters challenged Bush with many tough questions.

April:

+ Media Champion Free Speech -- But Only for the Left: Before, during, and after the war, leftist celebrities complained they were being punished for their courageous dissent. In reality, TV networks invited these anti-war liberals onto their airwaves and touted their contrary opinions. But when a GOP Senator dissented from the liberal orthodoxy on homosexuality, the media went from championing the dissenter to championing those who wanted to smother his views.

+ CNN Acknowledges They Were Soft on Saddam: On April 10, one day after the liberation of Baghdad, CNN's top news executive Eason Jordon admitted on NewsNight that his network had suppressed stories about Saddam's cruelties out of fear for the safety of CNN's reporters and Iraqi employees of the network. Jordan's tardy truthfulness validated critics who deplored the sanitized coverage of Saddam's regime.

May:

+ Reporters Tout Democratic Spin on Lincoln Landing: Even before President Bush's May 1 landing on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, the news media raised objections, hoping to avoid looking too favorable. But when Democratic officeholders such as Robert Byrd and Henry Waxman sought to undermine the images, the news media made no attempt to avoid looking too favorable to the Democratic partisans, and became willing channels for their complaints.

+ TV Denounces Bush Tax Cut, Again: Final passage of the President's tax cut in May was met with network bias on par with the hostile coverage that greeted the plan's announcement in January. Despite the fact that Congress had cut the size of the tax cut in half, CBS's Dan Rather persisted in echoing liberal critics who insisted it was a "big tax cut plan."

June:

+ Networks Clamor for Even More Spending: While network reporters frequently called the $350 billion tax cut "huge," the media mantra on the $400 billion prescription drug handout was that it was "still not enough." Referring to the fact that not every penny of seniors drug costs would be paid for by taxpayers, CBS's Joie Chen explained, "with only $400 billion to spend, there just isn't enough money to fix it."

+ Media See Legal Battle as Conservatives vs. "Rights": After two liberal rulings by the Supreme Court -- one upholding affirmative action and another overturning anti-sodomy laws - - the networks juxtaposed "conservatives" upset with the decisions and "rights advocates" who were pleased. After the sodomy ruling, ABC's Cynthia McFadden tagged conservatives as extremist: "Gays and lesbians are clearly encouraged, but given some of the ferocious language on the other side, full equality may be a good ways off."

July:

+ Media Suggest 16 Words Undermined Entire Iraq War: After the White House acknowledged that President Bush had overreached in his State of the Union when he cited a British report that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa, the media overreached in declaring that the one sentence qualified as a "vital argument" for the Iraq war. Journalists perpetuated a self-fulfilling storyline, that the administration was "being pressed to defend" its case, even as the press did most of the pressing.

+ Media Make "Centrist" Dean the Latest Craze: As Howard Dean's anti-war, pro-abortion, pro-higher taxes presidential campaign swiftly rose, reporters acknowledged his heightened chances by avoiding or rebutting the idea that he was a liberal. Newspaper profiles championed Dean's "fiscal conservatism," while Time magazine labeled Dean "a rock-ribbed budget hawk, a moderate on gays and guns, and a true lefty on only a few issues."

August:

+ Presenting Gay Bishop as a Courageous Pioneer: The U.S. Episcopalian church's elevation of an openly gay bishop was cheered as an advancement for civil rights by the secular liberal media. On weekday and Sunday morning interview shows, ten guests were brought on to champion Canon Robinson's cause, compared with only one guest who opposed the church's decision. Robinson's opponents were frequently labeled as "conservative" but his advocates were not labeled as "liberal."

+ TV Presents Environmentalists as Nonpartisan Truthtellers: As they had with a global warming controversy in June, in August the media invited partisan environmental activists to the airwaves to denounce the Bush administration's clean air policies. Reporters frequently echoed liberal talking points, as CBS's Jerry Bowen rued how "Mr. Bush had already rejected the Kyoto Treaty for controlling global warming, [and] had weakened levels on arsenic in drinking water before reversing the decision under public pressure."

September:

+ Spinning Iraq as Vietnam-Like Quagmire: Many media mavens sought to find a comparison between the liberation of Iraq and the failed mission in Vietnam that cost tens of thousands of American lives in the 1960s. On ABC's Nightline on September 25, Ted Koppel advertised his bias when he asked retired General Anthony Zinni, a critic of the war, whether "the whole notion of the weapons of mass destruction, the connection with al-Qaeda...was [that] as phony as the Gulf of Tonkin resolution?"

+ Recall, Part 1: No Scrutiny of Democratic Frontrunner: By September, national news coverage of the California recall election focused on a few potentially electable candidates, with liberal Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante in the lead. But the networks applied no scrutiny to the then-frontrunner, despite his well-known racial controversies.

October:

+ Recall, Part 2: Massive Scrutiny of Republican Frontrunner: As the October 7 election date neared, the national anchors harshly questioned GOP frontrunner Arnold Schwarzenegger about last-minute allegations he groped women. NBC's Tom Brokaw, who refused to detail Juanita Broaddrick's sexual assault charges against President Clinton, lectured Schwarzenegger: "In many states, what you did would be criminal."

+ TV Won't Blame Big Spending for Big Deficits: MRC researchers studied 108 federal deficit stories aired between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2003 (the federal fiscal year) on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts. Reporters seldom linked the huge increases in spending over the past several years with the supposedly deplorable record budget deficits, instead zeroing in on policies liberals deplored: tax cuts and war spending.

November:

+ Journalists Mourn CBS's "Censorship" of The Reagans: After the New York Times revealed that the script of the upcoming CBS mini-series was loaded with cheap shots against the ailing former President, none of the network morning shows acknowledged the many complaints from Reagan's supporters. But when CBS decided not to air the objectionable movie, morning TV pounded the notion that "artistic freedom" had been jeopardized by conservative "bullying."

+ "Turkeygate" -- Reporters Mar Bush's Baghdad Trip: Like the President's aircraft carrier landing in May, the media chose to drown out the positive reaction to Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad with Democratic attack lines. Two weeks after the trip, CNN's Aaron Brown devoted eight minutes to the fact that the Thanksgiving turkey Bush displayed for a photo was not eaten, a would-be scandal Brown dubbed "Turkeygate."

December:

+ Saddam Captured, but Reporters Still Gloomy: In their perpetual attempt to see only problems, even in the midst of a dramatic accomplishment, some journalists zeroed in on a few pessimistic talking points in the hours after Saddam Hussein's capture. "As people of suggested to us today, there's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment," ABC's Peter Jennings asserted during a prime time special December 14.

+ Talking Heads Celebrate "Reform" but Demand Even More: In covering the Supreme Court's December 10 ruling upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" law, network stories matched the liberal agenda of campaign regulation advocates. Instead of showing any concern for the diminution of free speech rights, the networks presumed there's too much money in campaigns and ignored how the law exempts the media from the restrictions on political activity.

A year packed with liberal bias.

"Top Ten Ways I, Howard Dean, Can Turn
Things Around"

From the January 22 Late Show with David Letterman, as presented via satellite from New Hampshire by Howard Dean, the "Top Ten Ways I, Howard Dean, Can Turn Things Around." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "Switch to decaf"

9. "Unveil new slogan: 'Vote for Dean and get one dollar off you next purchase at Blimpie'"

8. "Marry Rachel on final episode of 'Friends'"

7. "Don't change a thing -- it's going great"

6. "Show a little more skin"

5. "Go on 'American Idol' and give 'em a taste of these pipes"

4. "Start working out and speaking with Austrian accent"

3. "I can't give specifics yet, but it involves Ted Danson"

2. "Fire the staffer who suggested we do this lousy Top Ten list instead of actually campaigning"

1. "Oh, I don't know -- maybe fewer crazy, red-faced rants"

The Late Show has posted a RealPlayer clip of Dean reading part of the list: www.cbs.com

# Dennis Miller didn't show up as scheduled Thursday night on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the schedule now lists him for Friday night: www.nbc.com

-- Brent Baker