Gone; Study Shows Dole's Policies Denounced
Four items today, following a note, a correction and a humorous error from NBC's Today:
-- To better track these CyberAlerts, as of today I've begun to put a number at the top. Today's is the 103rd e-mail.
-- Yesterday I corrected my spelling of U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth. I should have left well enough alone. In making that correction, I mistakenly moved her to Iowa. She's from Idaho.
-- Speaking of errors, here's Today news anchor Matt Lauer during the 7am news Monday morning: "The next to last Monday of the presidential campaign finds Bob Dole in Southern California and Bill Clinton in St. Louis. In Virginia Sunday the President campaigned with Senator Chuck Robb, who's involved in a very tough re-election battle."
That must be news to Robb. He beat Oliver North two years ago. He's not up for re-election until 2000.
1) None of the broadcast networks on Monday night reported anything about the latest on the John Huang front. But on MSNBC a reporter noted that the Clinton team believes it's too late for Huang to hurt them. That might explain why DNC Chairman Chris Dodd felt comfortable enough Monday morning to joke with Don Imus that he can't tell the truth about DNC fundraising until after the election.
2) The ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows Monday downplayed the campaign. None aired any story from a reporter in the field. Instead, each had the anchor introduce soundbites from Clinton and Dole. But in so doing, Dan Rather forwarded the liberal definition of what affirmative action means.
3) The latest figures from the Center for Media and Public Affairs' ongoing tracking of positive and negative coverage shows that Dole's complaints about liberal bias may have some merit -- his policies have received many more negative comments than have Clinton's policies. And just eight percent of evaluations touched on Clinton's character.
ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News all failed
to mention John Huang Monday night October 28, though there was a
development. On MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, reporter Jim
Miklaszewski noted in his story on Clinton's day:
Especially when it's ignored by the broadcast networks. William Adams of
Talk Daily, a faxed digest of leading radio talk shows, passed along some
interesting comments that Chris Dodd made on Monday's Don Imus radio show.
Dodd said: "Eight more days and I can start telling you the truth
again [laughter] It's killing me, I'll tell you. I gotta lie [through] my
teeth to you every time I come on this show."
Here's how Dan Rather on Monday night (October 28) introduced a soundbite from Bob Dole explaining his support for the California Civil Rights Initiative: "This is the final full week of the presidential campaign. Bob Dole campaigned in California, a state that is absolutely must-win for him. Dole opened up a new, more aggressive line of attack against affirmative action programs designed to fight discriminaton against women and minorities."
The Center for Media and Public Affairs counts the number of positive and negative statements aired in campaign stories by the three broadcast network evening shows. Their latest numbers, covering May 15 to September 30:
-- "Ever since he left the Senate to campaign full-time, Mr. Dole has been heavily criticized for his economic policies (81% negative), his social policies (78% negative), and his conduct as a candidate (81% negative)."
-- "Since Labor Day...the gap between the two men's media images has widened -- 54 percent good press for Clinton vs. only 30 percent good press for Dole. (We calculate good press by tallying every positive or negative evaluation of a candidate's record, policies, personal character and behavior on the campaign trail. Our tallies include all on-air opinions expressed by reporters and sources who are not affiliated with a candidate or party. 'Good press' does NOT include any opinions about a candidate's prospects in the horse race, which we tally separately.)"
-- "In September, fully 91 percent of sources said the economy was healthy....In September 1992, 98 percent of all sources on the evening news criticized the state of the economy."
-- "Mr. Clinton received mostly bad press on the 'character issue' (74 percent negative)....But discussions of the President's character amounted to only eight percent of all evaluations of him, while more than half (54%) focusd on his conduct as President or his stands on specific policy issues. And the majority of those judgments have been favorable."
For those of you who don't get MediaWatch, below is the October Study, put together by the MRC's Tim Graham. If you'd like a copy of the is sue and a subscription order form, send an e-mail to MRC Circulation Manager Pete Reichel: firstname.lastname@example.org  -- Brent Baker
Revelation After Revelation Reported by Newspapers, But Never Make TV News Networks Blackout Clinton's Bad News On September 26, the House ethics committee announced it would expand an investigation of Speaker Newt Gingrich's college course "Renewing American Civilization." ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC reported the story, ultimately adding up to eleven broadcast network morning and evening segments in five days.
The next morning, NBC's Today led off with an interview with NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert, who proclaimed: "It's awful, it's serious, it's potentially devastating." On October 8, Today's Matt Lauer asked Gingrich six questions about ethics, including two about whether Gingrich would resign. But a MediaWatch review of recent scoops on the Clinton administration's character shows a much different approach to stories which could damage Democrats.
September 23: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's inspector general concluded that Hillary Clinton had drafted a real estate document with the intent to "deceive" federal regulators. That real estate transaction, a sham deal selling a property named Castle Grande to a straw buyer, later cost taxpayers $4 million in the bailout of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan.
The Washington Post put the news on its September 24 front page. Network coverage? Nothing -- until October 4, when NBC's Jim Miklaszewski mentioned it in a Nightly News story on a speech by independent counsel Ken Starr: "Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr was invited to appear by outspoken Clinton critic Pat Robertson and the audience was very conservative. The White House claims that's proof Starr is out to get Clinton for political reasons, but Starr says he'll stay the course." (ABC and CNN did report the story last February 29, when the FDIC released a more favorable assessment, recommending the FDIC not seek legal recourse against Mrs. Clinton or the Rose Law Firm.)
September 24: A House committee held hearings on charges that the administration has let criminals become citizens. The Washington Times story the next day began: "Immigration workers yesterday told a House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee of rampant abuses in the Citizenship USA program that apparently let thousands of immigrants with criminal records become citizens." The networks? Zilch until the October 18 CBS Evening News.
Also on September 24, a federal jury convicted Sun Diamond Growers, one of the nation's largest producers of fruits and nuts, of illegally showering former Clinton Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy with nearly $6,000 in gifts, a conviction for Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz. The story made The Washington Post front page the next day. Network coverage? Nothing, but The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS did a brief anchor-read item.
September 25: Sen. Orrin Hatch revealed a six-month gap in the log which listed who at the White House was accessing FBI background files on Republican White House employees. The Washington Times bannered the news across page one the next day. Coverage? A CNN World Today story and a mention on ABC's Good Morning America.
Also on the 25th, the Times reported that Rep. John Mica (R.-Fla.) sent a letter to Clinton's "drug czar" demanding release of a four-month-old Institute for Defense Analysis report that concluded Bush's interdiction policy was far more effective than Clinton's emphasis on drug treatment. Network coverage? Nothing until a story by David Martin on the October 15 CBS Evening News.
September 26: Three days after President Clinton refused to rule out pardons for Whitewater figures on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 170 members of Congress, including three Democrats, sent a letter to the White House demanding Clinton promise not to pardon anyone. The September 29 Washington Times reported that House Democrats were prepared to shut down the government if Republicans demanded a vote on a resolution calling for President Clinton to renounce pardons. Network coverage? With the exception of one general question on the 29th about pardons from CBS Evening News Sunday anchor John Roberts to commentator Laura Ingraham, absolutely nothing until Dole raised the subject later.
October 1: The White House claimed executive privilege to withhold from House investigators a memo to President Clinton from FBI Director Louis Freeh said to be highly critical of federal drug policy. Network response? Zero.
October 4: Sen. Orrin Hatch released the deposition of White House aide Mari Anderson before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Anderson verified that pages of the log used to record the taking of FBI files were missing. Anderson also asserted, in contradiction to White House aide Craig Livingstone's assurances, that he knew they were procuring the FBI files of Republicans. Even The Washington Post put this story on its front page the next day. Network coverage? Only CNN, in two Linden Soles anchor-briefs on The World Today, mentioned the news. (ABC's World News Tonight didn't report it, but the revelations were raised in an interview on the October 6 This Week.)
Also on October 4, former FBI Special Agent Dennis Sculimbrene, who was the senior agent assigned to the White House from 1986 to April 1996, told The Wall Street Journal: "There were senior people as well, senior aides and advisers to the President who used drugs recently -- people in policy positions, or say, the director of an office...Some senior people even said they had used drugs as recently as the Inaugural." Sculimbrene estimated that "about 25 percent of the incoming administration, about one out of four cases, had a problem with illegal drugs. Not just casual experimentation, but a pattern of usage." Network coverage? Zero.
October 10: A House panel investigating the Clinton administration's secret foreign policy initiative to encourage the Iranian government to arm the Bosnian Muslims asked the Justice Department to probe administration officials for possible criminal charges for false statements. Since the Iran-Bosnia secret foreign policy emerged in the Los Angeles Times April 5, CBS and NBC have aired absolutely nothing on the evening news about the story. CNN and ABC aired only anchor briefs, only in the first days of the story. Network coverage for the latest development? Zero.
On CNN's Crossfire Sept. 20, Chicago Tribune reporter Ellen Warren declared: "Reporters want nothing more, this year and four years ago, to have a horse race. That's what we're in love with, is the fight, the close call....So it's in our interest to make it look close, to make Bob Dole look good."
The omissions documented here suggest otherwise.
-- Brent Baker