Katie Couric Pushes Ted Kennedy's Latest Regulatory Intrusion --2/22/2005
2. Care More About Gannon Than Jordan, Many Softballs for Clinton
3. "Top Ten Good Things About Having the Same Name as a President"
On Monday's Today, Katie Couric conducted a softball interview promoting a Ted Kennedy-sponsored bill to require every employer in America with 15 or more employees to offer a mandatory seven sick days each year. She asked: "So obviously the legislation may be helpful, but the whole mentality of the workplace needs to change as well, right?" Her liberal guest, Linda Meric of the lobbying group 9 to 5, agreed: "The United States is way far behind in terms of the amount of time off that employees get to care for family members, to care for their own health and for other reasons." Couric had no question on the potential cost to employers or any other political or economic objections to the proposal. This wasn't the first time Today promoted European-style regulatory controls on the workplace.
[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
Closing out a series on germs and illness called "Dirty America," Couric began with a taped segment in the 7:30 half hour underlining the problems with what's called "presenteeism" -- when people come into work sick and potentially infectious: "If you are one of the millions of people dragging yourself to work with the sniffles or even worse you might think you'll get a pat on the back for going well above and beyond the call of duty but guess what you're probably doing more harm than good. Coming to work even if you're feeling under the weather may sound heroic but new studies show employees and employers might be better off if you stayed home with your coughs, sniffles and sneezes."
Next, Couric began an interview with Linda Meric, the Executive Director of 9 to 5, which she described merely as "an advocacy group for working women." She began by asking: "A lot of people go to work sick because they don't want to be considered slackers in this workaholic society we live in. But even worse, a lot go to work sick because they have no choice. Isn't that true?" Meric agreed.
Couric, in the interview corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Geoff Dickens, underlined the point: "Well we saw that one worker used half of her sick days and she was fired but 59 million American workers, something like 47 percent of the workforce have no paid sick days at all? What happens to those people once they get sick?"
When Meric explained many people go to work sick, but some stay at home at the risk of losing their jobs, Couric piped up: "Well that's so upsetting. Is that legal? I mean if, if somebody is really sick or has a family emergency, I was reading some of these stories from the 9 to 5 organization about what happens when you take time off and, and one says you lose your job when your child is injured. Let me just read this quickly: 'When my son got hit by car he didn't tell me right away because he was worried I would lose my job. An older child called me at my work and said, 'Mom. Eric is crying. He got hit by car you have to come home.' I told my boss who said I'd be fired if I left. I knew my child had to go to the emergency room so I left anyway and I was fired. The x-rays showed Eric had a broken arm.' This is from Robbie Bickerstaff in Wisconsin. These stories are often recounted, aren't they? I mean, this is not an isolated case is it?"
Couric could have noted that the 9 to 5 material she's reading from, a December 6 document titled, "10 Things That Could Happen to You If You Didn't Have Paid Sick Days," described Bickerstaff described as a member of the liberal lobbying group: "In the new booklet, 9to5 members Robbie Bickerstaff and Kimberley Miller share their stories." See that at: www.9to5.org
If that document causes you to wonder how this old news from December 6 became new news in late February, here's a guess: Ellen Goodman's column decrying an "epidemic of presenteeism" in the February 6 Boston Globe, using many of the same numbers that Couric used. Read it at: www.boston.com
Couric continued: "And as you mention children, I mean to take care of your children is sometimes difficult because studies showed kids get an average or sick an average three days a year and some schools even have rules that won't allow them to return to schools and that makes it even harder for working families."
Only at the end did Couric offer a tiny note of the other side of the debate: "Well somehow it has to be balanced, I guess, with the bottom line which is the big challenge, I guess. Linda Meric thanks so much for coming in this morning, we appreciate it."
This type of promoting of more European-style employer mandates is part of a pattern for Today. The August 2, 2001 CyberAlert recounted: Socialist France is a utopia for NBC's Today. After Keith Miller provided a glowing review of the forced 35-hour work week in France, Katie Couric gushed: "So great that young mother being able to come home at three everyday and spend that time with her child. Isn't that nice? The French, they've got it right."
To read more about Couric touting the advantages employees enjoy under French socialism, go to: www.mrc.org
In 2000, Today co-host Matt Lauer was shocked and amazed that Americans suffered from a vacation deficit: "Americans are working more and getting less vacation time than people in any other industrialized nation," Lauer proclaimed at the start of his interview with Joe Robinson, editor of Escape magazine. He then confided to his guest that, "I feel strange saying, I never stopped to think about the fact there is no official U.S. policy on vacation time." See more on that in the MRC's old MediaNomics newsletter: www.mediaresearch.org
The cable networks which continue to obsess over Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, showed little interest in the Eason Jordan scandal at CNN, a Media Reality Check from the MRC documented on Friday. And if Gannon/Guckert's initial crime was to pose too-soft questions in the Bush White House, a review of the MRC's archive proves that plenty of mainstream media reporters were just as guilty during the Clinton years. Here's one: "Sir, will you tell us why you think people have been so mean to you? Is it a conspiracy? Is it a plan? They treat you worse than they treated Abe Lincoln."
A reprint of the February 18 Media Reality Check by the MRC's Tim Graham:
NBC, MSNBC Find the Major Media Scandal at Talon News, Not CNN: NBC Only Had 30 Words for CNN Executive Eason Jordan's Charge That American Soldiers Murdered Journalists
Nine days after White House reporter "Jeff Gannon" (real name: James Guckert) quit his job as a journalist for the online site Talon News, NBC and MSNBC mysteriously decided to go large with the softball-question scandal Thursday. NBC's Today and Nightly News, as well as MSNBC's prime-time shows Hardball with Chris Matthews and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, pounded on what Olbermann called "Jeff Gannon, the fake reporter."
That's an interesting approach to media controversies. After a far more powerful journalist, CNN vice president Eason Jordan, suggested that American soldiers in Iraq were targeting journalists for death, NBC practically ignored it. Jordan's wild allegations drew only 30 words -- on Saturday morning, February 12. Today news reader Amy Robach reported: "A CNN executive under fire for making comments about journalists killed in Iraq has resigned. Eason Jordan says he is stepping down to save the network from being, quote, 'tarnished.'" While Keith Olbermann has pounded on "Gannongate" for days, he only briefly noted Jordan quitting on February 11.
If "Gannon" was so important, how is it that NBC and the other major media outlets only discovered him when he was attacked by liberal groups and bloggers? When have his questions at the White House (or the White House answers) ever been newsworthy before? In fact, White House briefings rarely air on cable news any more, so where was the nefarious propaganda power of the softball questions? He was only one reporter asking one question in a typically 45-minute briefing.
Chris Matthews showed the liberal arrogance on the "Gannon" scandal by ending last night's interview segment: "Pat Buchanan defending the un-defensible [sic]. And [liberal Washington Post reporter] Dana Milbank speaking for straight journalism." But if softball questions in the White House are an enormous scandal, then why weren't there questions about pulling press passes in the Clinton years? See more MRC research on the liberal "Gannons" at: www.nationalreview.com
END Reprint of Media Reality Check
Examples of the mainstream media's friendly approach to Clinton:
-- March 29, 2000 presidential press conference. Thomas Hargrove of Scripps-Howard: "Although not unprecedented in history, it's unusual for a President's child to have such an important limelight as Chelsea had during your state visit to the Asian subcontinent. With the First Lady fully engaged in New York, will we be seeing more of Chelsea? Did she express an interest to make more state visits with you, sir? How do you think she did?"
For a full rundown of questions at that press conference: www.mrc.org
-- The March 20, 1999 CyberAlert recounted: After waiting over ten months for a regular solo press conference by President Clinton, of over 20 questions posed, only two challenged him on any aspect of the sex scandals of the past year -- and both came from residents of the same house on Crest Lane in McLean, Virginia. That would be Mr. and Mrs. Sam Donaldson, with the Mrs. better known as Jan Smith, a reporter with the Fox-owned station in Washington, DC. Incredibly, the name "Monica Lewinsky" was never uttered by any reporter in any question. For a full rundown: www.mediaresearch.org
Meet the Obedient White House Press
President Clinton's March 19 press conference, his first formal solo press conference in more than ten months, was delayed five weeks after the final impeachment vote so that reporters would be able to "move on" to "the nation's business." The strategy worked....
Lewinsky's name was never even mentioned, even though, in her interview with Barbara Walters and her new book, she said Clinton gave her the first orgasm of the affair, meaning he lied about touching her "with an intent to arouse or gratify." Of the 21 questioners, eleven asked about either the coming war in Kosovo (five), the damaging Chinese theft of nuclear secrets (four), Bosnia (one), or Russia (one). Several of those, especially the China questions, were tough. Only six questions related to the scandals Clinton long avoided questions on, and four of those were slow-pitch softballs.
SENSITIVE SOFTBALLS....Eighty-something self-employed reporter Sarah McClendon yelled the suggestion that Clinton had been worse than assassinated: "Sir, will you tell us why you think people have been so mean to you? Is it a conspiracy? Is it a plan? They treat you worse than they treated Abe Lincoln."
U.S. News & World Report correspondent Kenneth Walsh tip-toed around a impeachment post-game analysis: "I understand that you don't want to speculate about what your opponents might do now after the impeachment struggle is over, but I wonder what your feelings are after some period of reflection on the impeachment process, how you were treated, and if you feel resentment, relief, and how you think people will deal with this and see it 10 to 20 years from now."
Washington Post reporter John F. Harris wondered if kiss-and-tell books were causing Clinton pain: "Sir, George Stephanopoulos has written a book that contained some fairly tough criticism of you. Earlier Dick Morris had written a somewhat similar book. How much pain do these judgments by former aides cause you? And do you consider it a betrayal for people to write books on the history of your administration while you're still in office?"...
On the non-scandal front, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked a boost-the-Hillary-hype question: "There's been a lot of people in New York state who have spoken with your wife, who seems to be pretty much convinced she wants to run for the Senate seat next year. A) how do you feel about that? Do you think she would be a good Senator? And, as part of a broader question involving what has happened over the past year, how are the two of you doing in trying to strengthen your relationship, given everything you and she have been through over this past year?"...
SAM AND JAN. The two tough questions on Clinton"s pattern of lying about sex came from the husband-and-wife team of ABC's Sam Donaldson and Jan Smith, a reporter with Washington's Fox affiliate WTTG. Donaldson asked Clinton to respond to Juanita Broaddrick's allegations: "Shouldn't you speak directly on this matter and reassure the public? And if they are not true, can you tell us what your relationship with Ms. Broaddrick was, if any?" He refused to answer for the second time. Smith asked about school children learning about truth-telling: "What do you think your legacy will be about lying, and how important do you think it is to tell the truth, especially under oath?"
Neither CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News mentioned the Broaddrick question and non-answer. It wasn't included in an ABCNews.com summary, although McClendon's Lincoln question made it. On The World Today, CNN's John King touched on Broaddrick for 13 seconds.
THE POST-GAME SHOW. Reaction to Donaldson's Broaddrick question varied. On Larry King Live, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz suggested, "I was struck by the fact that there was no follow-up. In fact, the whole press conference seemed to me to be kind of lacking in passion; it seemed like a back-to-business meat and potatoes news conference like you might have seen back in 1995....There was a time when, if somebody like Donaldson had asked about Juanita Broaddrick and the president tried to get away with that non-answer, there might have been two or three follow-ups and putting the President on the spot."...
END of Excerpt
For the MediaWatch article in full: www.mrc.org
-- In January of 1997, then-newly-installed ABC News White House reporter John Donvan asked Bill Clinton:
From the February 21 Presidents Day Late Show with David Letterman, as announced by men with the same name as a President, the "Top Ten Good Things About Having the Same Name as a President." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Andrew Jackson: "When I withdraw money from the bank, instead of asking for twenties, I ask for 'Me's'."
9. James Garfield: "Every morning as I walk into Radio Shack, my co-workers have to play 'Hail to the Chief'."
8. George Washington: "I get the History Channel for free."
7. William Henry Harrison: "I don't just say 'no' when my wife wants to redo the kitchen -- I veto it."
6. William McKinley: Surefire pickup line: "Want to 'Mount McKinley'?"
5. Richard Nixon: "Nothing."
4. Bill Clinton: "I always get V.I.P. treatment at strip clubs."
3. Zachary Taylor: "I'm named after the guy who...actually, I'd never heard of him until today."
2. Thomas Jefferson: "When I show up at Colonial Williamsburg, I get more tail than Frank Sinatra."
1. George W. Bush: "It's fun to buy rounds for everyone and send the tab to the White House."