Mother Teresa died ten years ago this week, just days after Princess Diana perished in a car crash, displaying a very interesting comparison in media reactions. Princess Diana, molded by so much positive publicity over the years into a "secular saint" when she died, drew superior coverage, both in amount and in tone. Mother Teresa's publicity was also very positive over the years, of course, but the media seemed more willing to solicit harsh criticism of her life, even at the time of her death. Brent Bozell chronicled that story in his column ten years ago:
Just last fall, as the networks exploded with coverage of Mark Foley's creepy instant messaging, we noted the networks (like ABC) had a very different way of covering Republican sex scandals -- especially the gay-themed ones -- than they did for Democrats. The best example is Barney Frank.
Notice how the networks define hypocrisy, and how liberals never seem to qualify. Frank was a lawmaker with a male-prostitution ring in his house, not to mention a lawmaker who kept getting the pimp's parking tickets waved off. Notice how they all mention "the voters" will decide, instead of going searching for legislators and party activists to underline his need to resign.
The people who manufacture the news in America are very persistent at writing the narrative exactly as it helps liberalism emerge victorious. On ethical scandals, they're very good at making sure Republicans force theirs to resign, and they're also very good at keeping Democrats shamelessly in power.
The world's media are busy mourning the death of the Princess Diana ten years ago. But while they are mourning the fact that they lost a ready-made newsmaker who shared many of their goals, they have forgotten to remember the anniversary of a far more important event than the death of the former wife of Great Britain's heir to the throne. As I was reminded by Lead and Gold, today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of the Polish communist government agreeing to the demands of striking shipyard workers. This surrender by the Communist leadership of Poland presaged the breaking loose of the satellite nations of the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain and led directly to the fall of the U.S.S.R. As Lead and Gold writes,
The strike marked the beginning of the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are, rightly, given the greatest share of credit for winning the Cold War. But Lech Walesa and John Paul II played indispensable roles. ...
Perhaps the first famous name that comes to mind when it comes to policeman arrests in a restroom is George Michael, the former Wham! singer, who was busted in April of 1998 for lewd conduct in a restroom at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills. (The act was reportedly masturbation and some public nudity.) This story, with Michael's fame on the wane, drew almost no attention from the same national media outlets who are now pounding on the office door of Sen. Larry Craig and insisting he resign.
A quick Nexis search shows no George Michael arrest stories on ABC, or NBC. CBS offered this anchor brief from Russ Mitchell on the morning of April 11: "In other entertainment news, pop singer George Michael apologized to his fans in a CNN interview in LA last night. Michael was arrested Tuesday and charged with what police called a lewd act in a restroom in a public park in Beverly Hills. He is due in court next month."
As the networks dwell on the tenth anniversary of the death of a troubled British princess this week, it might be worth remembering that at the time, we noticed the tabloid tendencies toward celebrity deaths at the time were a much bigger media trend than investigations into the scandalous fundraising tactics the Clinton-Gore team used in 1996. Our MediaWatch study at the time noted:
MediaWatch analysts examined fundraising scandal stories in August and September on the Big Three morning shows and evening shows, plus CNN's The World Today. The networks broadcast 686 stories on Diana between August 31 and the end of September compared to just 113 stories about the fundraising scandal. That's a ratio of more than 6 to 1. Isolating the morning shows, collectively they aired 407 stories on Princess Diana's death, while devoting just 36 to the scandal. That's an astonishing ratio of 10 to 1.
Associated Press reporter David Bauder wrote a story on the new MRC study on the wide and deep disparity of morning TV news coverage of the presidential candidates in 2007. It's fair and balanced. But for us, obviously, the most entertaining part was hearing the network producers respond to the charges. They said it's all the Republicans' fault for being so shy with interview requests, and declared the Democratic race was so stuffed with historic firsts, it just demands blockbuster coverage:
You've got a former first lady and a black senator fighting for the nomination," said Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC's "Today" show. "That's historic. We're not going to make apologies for covering that."
Stories about the cancer relapse of Democrat John Edwards' wife Elizabeth were also counted in the total. It's unfair to count a personal story like that in a tally that suggests bias, said Jim Murphy, executive producer of ABC's "Good Morning America."
On Tuesday, Jesse Jackson, the Brady bunch -- not the TV folk but the anti-gun lobby -- and other liberal activists rallied against “the national scourge of illegal guns” in cities around the nation.
The networks ignored the event, probably because turnout was so embarrassingly low. The Chicago Tribune reported that “about 200” piled out of three buses in Lake Barrington, Illinois, the Chicago-area protest keynoted by Jackson himself. The Philadelphia Inquirer said “about 200” showed up in Philly. The Dallas Morning News reported about 60 demonstrators in South Dallas, and AP said “about 100”attended the Washington, D.C. event held in nearby District Heights, Maryland.
Anti-gun activists were counting on good coverage if they had big turnouts, and no negative coverage if they didn’t. It’s the flip side of how the media cover pro-life rallies, downplaying enormous crowds and playing up the handful of counter demonstrators. In this case, the networks chose to look benignly in the other direction. The gun grabbers know that liberal journalists don’t like guns. Or, rather, they don’t like private citizens owning guns and taking personal responsibility for their own safety and that of their families and property.
How do we know? From the loaded coverage night after night on the networks and each day in major newspapers. A new CMI study, The Media Assault on the Second Amendment, documents seven months of media coverage of gun issues, and explains how the media are taking potshots at the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
Watching network morning show anchors interview the Democratic presidential candidates often makes you wonder if you’ve seen tougher interviews on overnight acne-care infomercials. Their questions are often so simple and promotional that you wish they’d just go ahead and wear their "Hillary!" or "Obama ‘08" buttons on the set.
There is no pretense of political balance. They are actively rooting for a Democratic victory next year, and they have the power to make a real difference. Notwithstanding their overall loss of audience in the last decade, ABC, CBS, and NBC morning shows draw nine times the audience of their cable-news competitors and are geared toward the mostly apolitical mainstream, which makes them an important free-media showcase for presidential hopefuls. A new study shows that if this year’s campaign coverage on the TV morning shows were a primary election, the Democrats would win in a landslide of attention and hyperbole.
Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center assessed all morning-show coverage on the Big Three from January 1 through July 31.
Much like tasty snacks, the networks can never stop their addiction to “food police” groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest.Yesterday morning it was Good Morning America that was shilling for them, saying, “Did you realize you were paying more for less food?”
What was the target this time? The 100 calorie “snack packs,” that CSPI themselves have fought for. CSPI is upset about the cost, even though companies have gone out of their way to create less fattening snacks, (in smaller portions, and with some new recipes).
GMA reporter Elisabeth Leamy starts off the segment like this:
A family in Clovis, California, which is near Fresno, has sadly become the modern day version of the Ryans, real-life brothers depicted in Steven Spielberg's acclaimed film "Saving Private Ryan" wherein all but one died serving his country in World War II.
For the Hubbards, Nathan, the second of three brothers serving in Iraq, died Wednesday in a helicopter accident in the northern part of that embattled nation. This came two years, nine months, and eighteen days after the death of brother Jared there.
The sole surviving brother, Jason, the eldest, returned home Friday, and according to the Associated Press, may not be going back to Iraq:
“Now we switch to the housing market and the U.S. economy and this is a big story,” said NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams on August 23. “Listen to this number on mortgage foreclosures in this country. They’re up 93 percent nationwide last month from the same period last year. This situation is dire. It’s creating a lot of anxiety about how that’s going to affect a great many homeowners and the economy as a whole.”
In the wake of President George W. Bush's reminder Wednesday about how the “killing fields” of Cambodia followed the 1975 U.S. pullout from Vietnam and the region, a look back at a study, by William C. Adams and Michael Joblove, which documented how from 1975 to 1978 the three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as the New York Times and Washington Post, virtually ignored the ongoing massacre of millions by the Khmer Rouge. Below is an excerpt, fairly lengthy since I can't imagine this is online anywhere else, from the MRC's 1990 book, “And That's the Way It Isn't: A Reference Guide to Media Bias.” The excerpt starts with a summary and then key findings from the study published in 1982:
The xenophobic reign of terror by the Marxist Khmer Rouge from April 1975 to January 1979 in Cambodia was as brutal as that of any in history. Up to three million Cambodians died of starvation, torture or execution. But despite what George Washington University professor William Adams and research associate Michael Joblove called "the barbarism and the magnitude of the tragedy," major media outlets in the U.S. paid little attention to the tragic events.
If George W. Bush's approval rating hit a low point for any president in 33 years, do you think the network evening news programs would have reported it?
Maybe as the lead story, right?
Well, a new Gallup poll was released on Tuesday stating that the approval rating for Congress tied the lowest point since Gallup began tracking such a thing, and none of the broadcasts networks thought it was newsworthy last night.
The likely reason for the boycott, beyond the obvious fact that the Democrats are now in control, is that much of the recent decline in this favorability has come from Democrats and Independents (emphasis added):
Sometimes I wonder if, when she left "The View," Rosie O'Donnell ever looked in the mirror and borrowed from the 37th President of the United States. "You won't have Rosie to kick around anymore!" Of Course, Richard Nixon never had a blog, Rosie does, and when she's not showing videos of her kids or writing stream-of-consciousness poetry, she's sharing her favorite 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Was ABC's George Stephanopoulos [file photo] moderating a presidential debate in Iowa today [transcript here], or running an internal Dem strategy session over how to most propitiously handle U.S. surrender in Iraq?
Imagine that instead of being a former Clinton operative, you're a bona fide journalist dedicated to challenging candidates about their assumptions. When talk turned to Iraq, wouldn't the first questions out of your mouth have been along these lines?:
Some of your Democratic colleagues, members of the House and Senate, who recently visited Iraq, have acknowledged that the surge is working. Rep. Brian Baird of Washington, a previously anti-war Democrat, said just Friday that "we're making real progress. I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security." Doesn't this give you pause about your unconditional plans to withdraw?
On November 17, 2005, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), who had previously supported the Iraq war, announced his call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The story led all three broadcast network evening news reports.
A mirror-image shift of position was reported today: a previously anti-war Dem has announced, after a visit to Iraq, that he now opposes withdrawal at this time. Will the MSM give anything like equal time to the story?
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wa.) is a five-term member of Congress, representing Washington's 3rd District. Baird voted against the initial resolution authorizing the war. But now, having recently returned from Iraq, he has another perspective on events there, telling his hometown newspaper, the Olympian, as reported in this article, the following, :
We're on the ground now. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work.
I think we're making real progress.
I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer went on an impassioned rant August 6 calling for the Fed to reduce interest rates.
“Bernanke needs to open the discount window. That is how bad things are out there … in the fixed income markets we have Armageddon,” said Cramer on “Stop Trading!” Following Cramers’ rant, NBC brought him on “Today” to analyze the economy August 10.
NBC’s Meredith Vieira asked “Are the markets about to crash?” on the August 10 “Today” show.
“Crashing” stock market? “Legalized gambling”? ABC’s “Good Morning America” berated the stock market for trampling on a supposed individual right to a mortgage.
Chris Cuomo’s August 13 story on a couple who had their mortgage pulled due the recent “drama on Wall Street” started like this:
“To a certain extent the stock market has always been a form of legalized gambling, where Wall Street tries to cash in on bets made on the right companies. But for many financial institutions, the chips were the mortgages of hard-working American families, in danger of losing their homes, or now never getting a chance to live the American dream.”
As the 2008 presidential campaign moves into high gear, a common conservative complaint has been that Democrat candidates have so far been largely asked softball questions by liberal moderators at their debates, while the Republicans have actually been vigorously challenged by media personalities in theirs.
On CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday morning, former Capitol Hill correspondent for ABC, and current contributing editor to the National Journal, Linda Douglass, made it quite clear that she agrees with such concerns.
Host Howard Kurtz, after playing a video clip of musician Melissa Etheridge asking Hillary Clinton (D-New York) a question at a recent debate, posed the following:
Linda Douglass, my question is with those kinds of personal, first-person, emotional queries, do we really need journalists at these debates? Aren't these questions sort of better than the kind of questions that reporters ask?
CBS, the Rathergate network, offered up another misleading report. The August 8 edition of "The Early Show,"at 7:09 AM, edited a Hillary Clinton quote from the August 7 AFL-CIO debate to portray her as a populist.
JOIE CHEN: Front-runner Clinton also came up against sharp elbows with rivals accusing her of cozying up to big-money lobbyists. Before thousands of union members, the New York Senator sought to portray herself as champion of the little guy.
CLINTON: So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl.
What she actually said was in the context of her preference in attacking the Republicans. The full quote is much more divisive than portraying herself "as champion of the little guy."
As six miners are trapped in a collapsed coal mine ABC “World News Tonight with Charles Gibson” took it the opportunity to kick the coal industry while it was down – but this time in the name of global warming.
“The criticism of coal is that it’s a dirty energy source. Although many of the pollutants are being scrubbed out – it’s still high in carbon, the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The industry is promising some new expensive technology to remove that carbon.” said ABC correspondent David Kerley on August 8
Diane Sawyer kicked "Good Morning America" off this morning with economic worries about Wall Street, the "credit crunch" and "record" foreclosures.
“We do begin with the week on Wall Street, where the Dow took another huge hit, plunging 280 points in just two hours. The cause of the worst credit crunch in almost quarter a century and you’ve seen it in the neighborhoods – a record number of foreclosures,” said Sawyer.
But according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBAA), foreclosures are not at a record when viewed by percentage. GMA’s one-sided talk of a “record number of foreclosures” misled viewers. Foreclosures are up compared to 2006, but so are the number of home loans.
Are Barbara Walters and Anderson Cooper really objective journalists? Ask them, and they will answer in the affirmative, even though Walters did not bother to find a Republican to fill in for the vacationing token non-liberal Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
With Hasselbeck’s absence, Caroline Rhea and Melissa Claire Egan filled in as guests co-hosts. After the "Hot Topics" segments, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper previewed the upcoming presidential election. Walters noted this observation.
BARBARA WALTERS: It’s very difficult. We don't seem to have a Republican on this panel except that nobody knows your opinion or my opinion Anderson [Cooper]. That’s the only saving-
If anyone in the media blames the Minnesota bridge collapse on "cheap Republicans" who like tax cuts, it would not be the first time. In 1989, after a memorable San Francisco earthquake, an interstate highway bridge collapsed and killed hundreds. Media figures demanded new taxes, and some even suggested the Proposition 13 ballot initiative may have caused unnecessary deaths. We reported in the November 1989 MediaWatch:
As aftershocks rumbled through the San Francisco Bay area, media figures began calling for more taxes. On the October 18 Nightline, Ted Koppel asked an agreeable Democratic politician from California: "We all remember a few years ago Proposition 13 which rolled back taxes. And at the same time the point was made you roll back the taxes, that's fine, but that means there are going to be fewer funds available for necessary projects. Any instances where the money that was not spent because of the rollback of Proposition 13 where money would have made a difference?"
You'd think it was the news media that "got a raise" last week for all the cheering. The federal minimum wage was increased on July 24 by 70 cents to $5.85 an hour and will go up by the same amount in 2008 and 2009.
CNN's Ali Velshi gleefully greeted the change on "American Morning" July 24. He called it "unmitigated good news."
ABC's Claire Shipman also called it "good news for thousands of low-paid workers," on "Good Morning America" the same day.
Barbara Walters announced that comedian, actress, and liberal activist Whoopi Goldberg will take Rosie O'Donnell's place as the moderator on "The View." Barbara Walters made the announcement.
"Today is the day we have been waiting for. You are about to meet the new moderator of 'The View' and we are thrilled. She is brilliant. She is funny. She's an enormous talent. She's an Oscar winning actress, a Broadway superstar. And we have her. Please join us in welcoming Whoopi Goldberg."
Although she will likely be less controversial than Rosie she does have a history of left wing remarks.
Most recently, as a guest co-host of her new show, Whoopi railed that "nobody as a right to burn [their own Dixie Chicks CD's]" and "burning them in public brings on 1933."