CyberAlert -- 04/16/1997 -- Time's Labeling

Time's Labeling; Ginsberg's Reality; Firing Back at Newt

1. Clinton fundraising stories disappear Tuesday night.

2. A philanthropist who helps conservatives is a "Conservative Agitator." A man who fights for liberal causes and says capitalism has replaced communism as the greatest threat is a "philanthropist."

3. Two Senators are insensitive to the needs of the disabled, but the networks forget to mention their party affiliation.

4. Networks praised Allen Ginsberg as "mild and thoughtful." But they missed the reality of his poetry: "Turn over spread your strong legs like a lass, I'll show you the thrill to be jived up the ass."

5. Alec Baldwin fires back at Newt Gingrich's suggestion on how to replace the NEA.

1) The April 15 CyberAlert noted that the NBC Nightly News failed to air a story Monday night about the revelations in a pile of Clinton fundraising documents released that day. On ABC's World News Tonight Peter Jennings did a brief item on how the documents show party officials asked for jobs for 1992 fundraisers and how many donors got to ride on Air Force One. Jennings ended by promising: "Just got those documents today, more analysis of them to come."

I then wrote: "We'll see. In the past the networks have quickly dropped Clinton scandals stories and failed to follow-up on revelations."

Dionne Warwick should be calling me soon with a job offer from the Psychic Friends Network. Tuesday night neither ABC or NBC uttered a word about any aspect of any Clinton scandal, meaning NBC Nightly News viewers have no idea any documents were released. On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather did recite a brief item on how White House Chief-of-Staff Erskine Bowles testified before Whitewater grand jury in Little Rock about help given to Web Hubbell.

2) The April 21 edition of Time magazine features its list of the "25 Most Influential" people of 1997. A look at pages 50 and 51 offers a glimpse at how Time sees the world.

On page 50 Time lists Richard Scaife whom the magazine tags as "Conservative Agitator" in the subhead description. The bio begins:

"If conservative thinkers like Bill Bennett and Paul Weyrich are the brainpower behind the resurgent American right, the horsepower comes from Richard Mellon Scaife. For close to four decades, the 64-year-old Pennsylvanian has used his millions to back anti-liberal ideas and their proponents."

Later, Time adds: "He controls the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Carthage Foundation, which help subsidize rabidly anti-Clinton magazines as well as conservative social policy projects."

On the facing page Time features George Soros. If Scaife is a "conservative agitator," then a fair and balanced magazine would label Soros a "liberal agitator." But this is Time, so Soros carries the subhead of "Philanthropist."

The liberal activities of Soros become clear in the copy, but Time refrains from ever calling him liberal. Readers learn that he's been "directing his dollars to an array of hot-button political causes tied to his personal ideal of an 'open society' and by writing an iconoclastic critique of free-market capitalism."

Among the projects pushed by this unlabeled "philanthropist" according to Time: "$1 million to help pass initiatives in California and Arizona last year that legalized the medicinal use of marijuana" and "$50 million for a fund to help legal immigrants." Lest the latter item sound too non-political, it's clear Soros put his money up to counter the immigration reform plan. In a November 21, 1996 NBC Nightly News profile of Soros, Tom Brokaw announced over video of the Statue of Liberty:

"She's a symbol of hope for those seeking a better life, the words given to us by poet Emma Lazarus. So, when the welfare reform bill was passed by Congress this year, a bill that slashed aid to legal immigrants, deep cuts, some $22 billion dollars, philanthropist George Soros reacted immediately, creating a $50 million fund and he named it after Emma Lazarus." Brokaw later noted the political intent of Soros's money: "His swift and deeply personal response to the welfare reform bill comes at a time when many are asking whether private giving can compensate for government cuts in social services."

Time also relayed this view of capitalism from the "philanthropist":

"In a lengthy essay in the Atlantic Monthly earlier this year, Soros wrote that laissez-faire capitalism has got so out of hand that the 'main enemy of the open society is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat.' He contends that the 'cult of success has replaced a belief in principles' and that 'society has lost its anchor.'"

3) On Tuesday's (April 15) CBS Evening News Dan Rather told viewers: "The United States Senate dealt swiftly today with a case of possible discrimination against the disabled right on Capitol Hill. An unidentified Senator's complaint, apparently kept this blind congressional aide, Moira Shea from entering the Senate chamber yesterday because of her guide dog. Well today she and her dog, Beau, were officially invited in for a brief visit."

Memo to the crack CBS News research department: The AP reported Monday that "the objection was filed by Senator Robert Byrd."

NBC Nightly News produced a full story on the incident. Reporter Lisa Myers explained that the woman worked for Senator Ron Wyden, "but another Senator, Robert Byrd, a zealous guardian of Senate rules, objected."

ABC's Peter Jennings explained that the Senate voted Tuesday to allow guide dogs on the Senate floor, but that on Monday Shea was barred because "Senator Harry Reid did relay an objection from Senator Robert Byrd, well known as a stickler for Senate privilege and procedure."

One word not heard in any of the three stories: "Democrat." All three Senators involved (Wyden, Reid and Byrd) are Democrats. Somehow I bet that if a right-wing Republican had objected and caused this kind of violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act his party affiliation would have been a prominent part of the story.

4) This item is rated TV-MA. The April 7 CyberAlert noted that in their glowing tributes to poet Allen Ginsberg none mentioned his hateful tone toward conservatives such as his 1994 statement to The Progressive magazine: "I have no doubt that if Rush Limbaugh or Pat Buchanan or Ollie North ever got real power, there would be concentration camps and mass death."

For an article in the April MediaWatch, MRC news analyst Clay Waters transcribed some of the tributes and then compared them to the reality he dug up from some Web surfing and other research to document Ginsberg's poetry and view of pedophilia. Here's an excerpt from Clay's article:

When Allen Ginsberg died April 5, network liberals came out of the closet praising the "Beat Generation's Poet Laureate," noting his seminal place as founder of the Beat movement, while whitewashing the more sordid parts of Ginsberg's cultural legacy.

Ginsberg's death actually led off the NBC Nightly News that night. Anchor Brian Williams began with a fulsome tribute: "The man who died in a New York hospital room this morning didn't just watch times change in the '60s as much as he helped change our times." Reporter Rick Davis called Ginsberg a "guru with a showman's grace."

The next day on CBS Sunday Morning, host Charles Osgood raised Ginsberg to Biblical status: "It is with the righteous wrath of an Old Testament prophet that Allen Ginsberg denounced the greed and grasping and the superficiality and the complacency that he believed he saw all around him in this country in 1956....if we are suspicious now of the material world, and sometimes our souls burn a little for the ancient connection to the 'starry dynamo in the machinery of the night,' we have Allen Ginsberg, angry on the page but mild and thoughtful otherwise, to thank for that."

On ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Aaron Brown enthused on April 5: "Two often overused words seem to describe Ginsberg best to us: Genius and controversial....His sexuality -- he was gay -- was often the center of both his art and his politics. And if his causes weren't yours, and his poetry sometimes left you confused, then you could still appreciate his candor, and his courage, and his energy."

Yet the networks ignored the darker aspects of that sexual milieu, ignoring Ginsberg's membership in the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which supports the repeal of age of consent laws and advocates "consensual" sexual relations between men and young boys. Ginsberg defended his affiliation: "I'm in NAMBLA because I love boys too -- everybody does, who has a little humanity."

And although reporters found Ginsberg's art and sexuality honest and courageous, they weren't courageous enough to quote the most revealing examples, like this excerpt from Ginsberg's "Come All Ye Brave Boys:" "Come heroic half naked young studs, that drive automobiles through vaginal blood/Turn over spread your strong legs like a lass, I'll show you the thrill to be jived up the ass,/Come sweet delicate strong minded men, I'll take you through graveyards and kiss you again."

Or this, from an interview in Seconds magazine: "If you just take a walk through the Vatican, you could say everybody loves the slightly erotic emanation of nude prepubescent bodies."

5) Last week Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested to those who advocate National Endowment for the Arts funding: "If the people who come to lobby us who are famous and rich would simply dedicate one percent of their gross income to an 'American Endowment for the Arts,' they would fund a bigger system than the National Endowment for the Arts."

On Friday, actor Alec Baldwin, who heads the Creative Coalition, shot back. Mark Honig, Executive Director of the MRC's Parents Television Council, caught Baldwin's comment as run in the April 12 Los Angeles Times:

"The government does not ask defense contractors to give a certain percentage of their profits to the Defense Department. I find it odd that the Speaker singles out one group in regard to federal funding."

As a reminder, here's what Baldwin said of Gingrich in an interview published in the February US magazine:

US: "What do you predict the next four years are going to be like for President Clinton?"

Baldwin: "I believe that the people who run the Republican Party in this country are really rotten, nasty, horrible human beings and they want to hurt him. They want to bash him; they're pissed. The forces of darkness are going to try to give it to him bad."

US: "The Shadow speaks? Who are these evil men?"

Baldwin: "Newt Gingrich, who calls [Clinton] a lying scumbag every chance he gets, and Al D'Amato, the paragon of senatorial virtue."

Maybe we could just tack a hate speech tax on Baldwin.

-- Brent Baker