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CyberAlert -- 07/11/1996 -- Taxes vs. Cuts; Carlson Hypocrisy; NBC's Victims

Taxes vs. Cuts; Carlson Hypocrisy; NBC's Victims

Four items today:

  • Some real bias in Katie Couric's interview with Bob Dole that got lost in the publicity over smoking. She sees tax cuts and budget balancing as contradictory.
  • Time magazine's Margaret Carlson blasts her industry for publicizing the Gary Aldrich book, but a bit of hypocrisy comes through when you look at an article she wrote in 1985.
  • NBC Nightly News discovers and cries over a new class of "victims" -- those who don't get paid for overtime.
  • Asked to rate the media's bias from right to left on a scale of 0 to ten, Eleanor Clift puts the media right in the middle.
> 1) The now famous Today exchange about smoking took place in part two of a three part interview. On the first day, July 1, Katie Couric displayed the conventional media wisdom about tax cuts and balancing the budget: you can have one but not the other. Here are her challenges to Bob Dole as he tries to explain how he'll achieve both:
-- "So you don't support across the board tax cuts?"
-- "What's more important to you, tax cuts or balancing the budget, if you had to choose?"
-- "If you had to pick one?"

> 2) Margaret Carlson opened her July 15 Time column on attention to the Gary Aldrich book by charging that "the press has caught Mad Lie disease, marked by a loss of appetite for the truth and projectile regurgitation of anything fed to it." In her last paragraph, she wrote: "There was a time when by common agreement a book like Aldrich's would die for lack of oxygen. Now the mainstream media strive to get every sensational rumor 'in play.'"

Well, as MediaWatch Associate Editor Tim Graham reminded me, let's flip through Carlson's clip book. The July 1989 MediaWatch quoted this paragraph from Carlson's November 1985 article in Esquire magazine previewing the 1988 Republican contenders:

"What one does in Washington behind closed doors generally stays out of the paper. But the persistent rumor that one of the potential 1988 presidential candidates has a homosexual past is testing the unacknowledged code of silence among reporters."

> 3) On Tuesday night (July 9), the day the Senate passed a minimum wage increase bill, Tom Brokaw announced that "the Labor Department has discovered that millions of American workers are being shortchanged on another front: overtime. They're working it, but they're not getting the dividend." As transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson, here are some excerpts from the story that should have generated little sympathy from those with salaried jobs.

Reporter Mike Jensen began by talking with Becky Perkins who "raises two children and works long hours as a parole officer in Texas." She explained: "There's no way you can leave at 5:00. I mean, you're staying there 'til six, seven, eight, doing just paperwork alone, not to mention going out into the field to make home visits."

But, Jensen reported, "In spite of the long hours, the state refused to pay Becky overtime, but the U.S. Labor Department investigated. It said money was owed, that Becky had been shortchanged....Workers like Becky are gypped out of an estimated $20 billion a year in unpaid overtime. The worst offenders? Construction companies, garment factories, toy makers, auto repair shops, and food stores. Hundreds of thousands of victims and very few complaints, says attorney Joan Keyok" [spelling approximated].

Following a soundbite from her, Jensen returned to the "victim" theme: "Many of the victims are minimum wage workers afraid of being fired, or immigrants who don't know their rights, or older workers concerned about downsizing. They never see the time and a half pay that's legally theirs."

> 4) On a 0-10 scale of media bias from right wing to left wing bias where does Eleanor Clift place the media? Here's her answer from McLaughlin Group last weekend: "The press is right in the middle. It's a five. The bias is for bad news."

Another sign of progress: Not even a committed liberal like Clift dares to say anymore that the media are biased to the right.

-- Brent Baker

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