PBS Finds FNC Biased; Limbaugh as Model; Soccer Team Too Sexy?
1) The networks gave a warm reception to the NAACP's lawsuit against gun manufacturers as it led CBS Monday night. NBC's Lisa Myers countered GOP concerns on HMO reform, contending that in Texas "those horror stories have not come true."
2) Al Gore's gun control measures don't go far enough to satisfy ABC's Charlie Gibson, but CBS's This Morning actually hit Gore from the right on gun control. Meanwhile, an ABC News promo spot proudly highlights Gibson pleading for gun registration.
The NAACP's announcement that the group is suing gun manufacturers received a warm review from the networks on Monday night, especially CBS and NBC. Dan Rather avoided calling it liberal, referring to the NAACP as "one of the nation's most respected...civil rights organizations." CBS followed with a story on Al Gore's anti-crime plan which focuses on gun control, though Bill Plante did point out that Gore will have to explain why the administration has not pushed registration during the last seven years. ABC was the only broadcast network to run a full story on how the NAACP also complained at its convention that there are no blacks as leading characters in any new TV series set to begin this fall.
The opening of the HMO reform debate on Capitol Hill also produced stories on all the networks, with NBC's Lisa Myers countering the GOP's argument: "But there were similar warnings of huge cost increases in Texas a few years ago when that state gave patients similar rights. And so far those horror stories have not come true." In fact, she maintained, HMO premiums have held steady and a doctor told her that with an appeals process in place HMOs are now less likely to deny care. She shot down one more GOP concern: "And despite predictions of a flood of lawsuits, less than a half dozen filed so far."
Monday night, July
12, ABC led with the arguments over what to do with the surplus, CBS went
first with the NAACP gun suit, CNN began with HMO reform and NBC Nightly
News led by pairing two events of the day as anchor Brian Williams
delivered this non-critical item about the NAACP's gun lawsuit:
Dan Rather made it
anti-gun night on the CBS Evening News:
Mitchell's story Rather intoned:
Bill Plante picked
up on Gore's gun control outline: "Surrounded by police in Boston
the Vice President pushed further on gun control than President Clinton
has ever gone. Gore wants to require a photo license for all new handgun
Rather then read a short response from George W. Bush about how these new laws won't prevent criminals from committing crimes with guns.
Starting Tuesday night the CBS Evening News will be running an Eye on America series on guns: "Armed America."
Al Gore may have, as CBS's Bill Plante assessed, "pushed further on gun control than President Clinton has ever gone," but it's not far enough to satisfy ABC's Charlie Gibson. Just as he did with President Clinton back on June 4, on Monday morning Gibson demanded Al Gore defend not advocating registration of guns "as we do with every other consumer product."
Gore heard tougher questions on CBS's This Morning as Russ Mitchell actually hit him from the right on gun control, but neither morning show took the opportunity to ask Gore to explain his hypocrisy over hiring consultant Carter Eskew who produced the tobacco industry's ads last year against the bills backed by Clinton-Gore. Gore also claimed he stopped taking tobacco money after his sister died of lung cancer.
A new ABC News promo spot actually highlights the network's liberal bias on the gun issue, showing Gibson pleading with Clinton: "Polls have shown that this country would accept registration of firearms."
-- Monday's Good
Morning America. Here are Gibson's first three questions to Gore, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, before Gibson asked about the
primary fight and let the VP congratulate the U.S. women's soccer team:
-- An hour later
Al Gore got a few more challenging questions on CBS's This Morning from
Russ Mitchell, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
-- ABC, promoting
its liberal bias by showcasing Gibson's liberal advocacy to President
Clinton. Here's the text of a promo run during Sunday's This Week:
In that June 4 interview from the White House, Gibson urged Clinton to "roar on gun control," telling the President: "But when you went to Littleton, a friend of yours, who supports you on gun control, said to me in the last 48 hours, the President, because as he said Littleton has seared the national conscience, the President had a chance to roar on gun control and he meowed, and that was a friend of yours. There are very basic measures that could be taken that people agree on. We register every automobile in America. We don't register guns. That's a step that would make a difference."
To watch a RealPlayer excerpt of this interview and to read a more complete transcript of Gibson's approach, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990604a.html 
PBS's NewsHour on Monday night assessed the three cable news networks and discovered bias at just one. You guessed it: the Fox News Channel, which CNN founding CEO Reese Schonfeld maintained, wants "to be the most furthest to the right." Fox's Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume did get a chance to suggest they only look conservative because the other networks are to the left, but Schonfeld assured viewers neither MSNBC or CNN display any ideological bias.
In the piece, CBS
News veteran Terence Smith who jumped to the NewsHour last year, observed
that CNN emphasizes foreign news more than MSNBC or FNC. Smith added:
But not too disorganized to produce the Tailwind hit job which matched a left-wing ideological worldwview.
And a note to Schonfeld: MSNBC has found "a left-wing equivalent of Oliver North." He's Paul Begala who is paired with North on Equal Time. Of course, MSNBC's tilt to the left comes more from the fact they re-play NBC News stories all day than the fact they try to get people to watch solo liberals for an hour in prime time, like John Hockenberry. North has never been given an hour without a liberal counterweight.
While MSNBC flops with liberal hosts like John Hockenberry in prime time, whom the network dropped last week, MSNBC's own chief credited FNC's prime time success to following Rush Limbaugh's formula.
Asked in the July
12 Electronic Media trade magazine published on Monday, "What is Fox
News Channel doing that seems to be working in prime time?", MSNBC
General Manager Erik Sorenson replied:
So why doesn't MSNBC do the same and offer viewpoints not heard on network television, a strategy exploited by talk radio?
MSNBC has more prime time viewers than FNC, but when you factor in the larger number of cable homes with access to MSNBC you find that FNC is actually doing better. As noted in the July 6 CyberAlert, in the second quarter of this year CNN captured 812,000 prime time viewers, MSNBC 285,000 and FNC 254,000.
But, as Terence Smith pointed out in his NewsHour piece cited in item #3 today above, CNN is 75 million households while MSNBC is available in 49 million and FNC in 41 million, or 17 percent fewer homes than MSNBC. Take 254,000 and add 17 percent and you get 298,000, or 13,000 more viewers than watch MSNBC and a more accurate estimate of how many would watch FNC if as many could as can choose MSNBC.
The whole nation is celebrating the World Cup win for the U.S. women's soccer team, but NBC's Katie Couric demanded two players answer to liberal feminists who might be upset by how they used sex to sell the team and themselves.
Since Disney/ABC paid to show the game the network got the team first on Monday morning, showcasing them for the entire 7:30am half hour on Good Morning America, thus not letting Today have them until the 8:30am half hour. (ABC also withheld access to video clips of the final moments and post-game celebration, which is why you may have noticed that NBC showed only still shots on Monday and the CBS Evening News played noticeably poorer than normal quality video, probably off a VCR.)
Returning for a
second segment with the team after an ad break Today co-host Katie Couric
brought on a dour mood:
"Soccer mommas" is reference to a Letterman gag when they showed a picture of the team wearing Late Show T-shirts. Chastain maintained she was just showing how you can be athletic and strong.
Couric followed up: "Is that how you feel Julie? I know you were in Sports Illustrated in a bikini running with your husband which is a completely innocent photo but I'm sure some hard core feminists are gonna say, 'Wait a second what's going on here?'"
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