History

By Rich Noyes | November 2, 2010 | 11:11 AM EDT

Sixteen years ago, the Republicans picked up 54 seats in the House of Representatives, taking control of that chamber for the first time since the 1950s. So how good were the media’s predictions back then? Trolling through the MRC’s archives, I came across these quotes from coverage just before the 1994 vote:

By Tim Graham | October 22, 2010 | 6:37 PM EDT

The Washington Post is apparently an easy mark for someone selling 19-year-old sex allegations – or in this case pornography allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In 1991, during the Hill-Thomas hearings, Lillian McEwen kept quiet. But now, she has a memoir she's "shopping to publishers." The Post splashed her face across the front of Friday's Style section. The headline was “I have nothing to be afraid of,” leaving out “and a book deal to gain.” The subhead was “Nineteen years after his turbulent confirmation, Lillian McEwen opens up with telling details about her intimate relationship with Clarence Thomas.” But are the “telling details” true or false?

Reporter Michael Fletcher (co-author of a critical biography of Justice Thomas) downplays that McEwen was a Democrat and lawyer for Senator Joe Biden on the Judiciary Committee. In their 1994 anti-Thomas book Strange Justice, reporters Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer quote Sukari Hardnett (another Thomas accuser) claiming Thomas discussed his personal life with her, complaining that McEwen viewed him as “a puppet of the Republicans.” 

By Matt Hadro | October 1, 2010 | 3:39 PM EDT
Meghan McCain apparently thinks there will be a "bloodletting" in the GOP in the next election, because the party has no room for controversial socially liberal figures like her.

Appearing on CNN's "American Morning" Thursday, McCain criticized the current state of the Republican Party, which she believes is too conservative and narrow-minded to include more moderate and independent thinkers like herself. This focus, McCain warned, will cut down on the number of party voters.

When the subject of "RINOs" (Republican-In-Name-Only) surfaced, McCain asserted that conservative icons Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan "would both be called that today." In addition, McCain had dark predictions for the GOP in the "next election," predicting a party purge of sorts. "I'm scared of a bloodletting in the next election," McCain worried.

CNN co-anchor Kiran Chetry did not challenge McCain's questionable claims, but rather set up the podium for her to criticize the Republican Party. "Are you afraid that the party is changing or going in a direction that's going to leave it in the dust when it comes to attracting young people?" Chetry asked.
By Matt Hadro | September 23, 2010 | 4:19 PM EDT
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough – who when a Republican congressman voted to impeach President Clinton – seems to believe that a former President should be able to legally  run for office again after taking "a term or two off." His comments followed a gushing slew of praise for former President Bill Clinton, and he noted that many viewers "are just sitting there thinking 'Why can't [Clinton] run for President in a couple of years?'"

"It seems so short-sighted, just because the Republicans were upset that FDR was President for four terms," Scarborough complained of the 22nd Amendment, ratified during Truman's second term but passed out of Congress four years earlier in March 1947. Republicans did control both houses of Congress then, but the amendment would have excluded then-President Harry Truman and was supported by some Democrats.

Co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski conducted a glowing  interview of the former president at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
By Matt Hadro | September 22, 2010 | 4:24 PM EDT
In a zinger that roused the indignation of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson cast Christine O'Donnell as Sarah Palin's protege – but "with not a fully-functioning human brain." But in 1992, Carlson gushed over the primary victories of current Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. Does she hold a double-standard?

Co-host Mika Brzezinski was taken aback when the panel had to discuss Carlson's piece for The Daily Beast, "Watch Your Back, Sarah." She silently mouthed the word "bitchy" to Carlson to describe the article, adding that it was "searing."

Carlson's piece focuses on the emergence of the Republican Delaware Senate nominee as the next Sarah Palin protege, predicting a political catfight of sorts between the two female GOP stars. Carlson labeled O'Donnell an "obvious knockoff" of Palin, "hawking her wares on the shores of the Delaware."

Appearing on "Morning Joe" Wednesday, Carlson sneered that O'Donnell lacks a "fully-functioning human brain."

Of course, there was a time when she smiled upon the emergence of female Senate candidates.
By Brent Baker | September 19, 2010 | 10:42 PM EDT
CBS broke into summer re-runs of 60 Minutes to let Lesley Stahl promote Jimmy Carter’s new book, White House Diary, which he maintained delivers “absolute unadulterated frankness” and which she described as an “often harsh critique” of his presidential term. She, however, was far from harsh toward him.

Noting an “image of ‘a failed President’ haunts the Carters,” Stahl trumpeted: “Carter argues that despite the image of failure, he actually had a long list of successes, starting with bringing all the hostages home alive,” as if that wasn’t because of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. Stahl proceeded to tout as a success his installation of “solar panels on the roof of the White House.”

Absolving Carter of responsibility, Stahl contended he “was cursed by a dismal economy, poor relations with Congress, and a nightmarish standoff over 52 Americans held hostage by Iran.” Yet, “when all is said and done, and many will be surprised to hear this,” Stahl insisted, “Jimmy Carter got more of his programs passed than Reagan and Nixon, Ford, Bush 1, Clinton or Bush 2.” She empathized with his treatment from an unappreciative public: “And yet, as I say, there's the sense that you were a failed President.”
By Matt Hadro | September 14, 2010 | 5:47 PM EDT
Appearing on MSNBC to present his magazine's feature piece critical of the "Baby Boomer" generation, James Bennet of The Atlantic named George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Bill Clinton as the three worst "baby boomers" who did the most harm to the country's political culture and its economy.

"It'd be hard not to point to George W. Bush as having done a lot of damage," Bennet asserted.  Bush, he added, "created a lot of programs that costed us a huge amount of money, without a lot of regard for what the effects are going to be on the folks that are going to have to pay for those for many years."

Bennet also blamed President Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for failed policies. However, Bennet was quick to reference the "surpluses as far as the eye could see" at the end of the Clinton administration, as a counterweight to Clinton's damage while in office. He bafflingly lauded President George H.W. Bush's tax hike as "politically brave" and which helped create the prosperity of the Clinton years.
By Tim Graham | September 14, 2010 | 3:15 PM EDT

On Tuesday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz publicized a forthcoming book by former TV producer/reporter Mark Feldstein on syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, a big star in the media firmament in the 1960s and 1970s. (He was an early featured player in ABC's Good Morning America.) Kurtz relayed how Feldstein found Anderson engaged in blackmail and bribery to get scoops, often designed to provide maximum embarrassment to Republicans.

People whose version of media history only includes the Woodwards and Bernsteins taking down Richard Nixon (for nothing more than their sheer love of country) might want to see just how Anderson worked hand in glove with Democrats, and cut a series of ethical corners: 

Anderson's questionable tactics were visible as early as 1958, when he and a Democratic congressional investigator were caught with bugging equipment in the old Sheraton-Carlton Hotel, surreptitiously recording the businessman who bribed Sherman Adams, later forced to resign as President Dwight Eisenhower's chief of staff. This was a big break for Anderson, who was then the chief legman for columnist Drew Pearson.
By Brent Baker | September 14, 2010 | 9:01 AM EDT
Giving Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer an unusual evening newscast platform to plug a book, on Monday’s NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams brought viewers back to the Left’s ten-year-old grudge, cuing up Breyer to agree: “Do you think Bush v Gore hurt the credibility of the modern court?” Breyer replied with a simple “yes” and Williams suggested: “Irreparably?” “No,” Breyer said in rejecting Williams’ overwrought premise, so Williams pressed: “For how long?”

Williams introduced the September 13 segment by marveling:
We can’t remember a sitting justice on the U.S. Supreme Court ever stopping by our studios here, but it happened today. We spent some time with Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Clinton and residing on the liberal side of the court. Justice Breyer is out with a new book today. It’s about how the court works, including mistakes the court has made over the years. I started out by asking Justice Breyer, given his love of the Supreme Court, if he's concerned that just one percent of those Americans polled, in a recent survey, knew his name?
By Brent Baker | September 12, 2010 | 1:10 AM EDT
Before this weekend ends, I thought it worth a reminder that this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of a key milestone in the creation of the modern conservative political movement – the “Sharon Statement.” On Friday, the Fund for American Studies and the Young America’s Foundation sponsored a “Tribute to Sharon: Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Liberty” daytime conference followed by a dinner commemorating the 1960 founding of the Young Americans for Freedom. C-SPAN carried the afternoon speakers live from DC’s Mayflower hotel. (The image here is from a photo I took of a screen during the dinner.)

For the American Spectator online, Quin Hillyer, one of the speakers, wrote an informative piece on what he described as “the single best compendium of American conservative movement beliefs” and its adoption at a gathering of about 90 college students and a few 30-something “elders” (including MRC President L. Brent Bozell III's father) at William F. Buckley Jr.’s home in Sharon, Connecticut.

In a piece in Friday’s Investor’s Business Daily, “The Magnificent Legacy of the YAF,” K.E. Grubbs Jr. recalled “M. Stanton Evans was charged with drafting a statement of principles” and observed: “The Sharon Statement would last as the late 20th century's single most elegant distillation of conservative principles.”
By Brent Baker | September 7, 2010 | 4:17 PM EDT

Reporting ABC News President David Westin's plan to step down at the end of the year, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted “some early missteps” during his 13-year tenure, such as “a comment after the Sept. 11 attacks, for which Westin apologized, that journalists should offer no opinion about whether the Pentagon had been a legitimate military target.”

That apology was promoted by an MRC CyberAlert item in October of 2001 which put into play an answer Westin delivered during a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism seminar. Barely six weeks after the 9/11 attack, Westin was remarkably reticent about expressing an opinion, contending that's improper for a journalist to do so – how quaint:

The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don’t have an opinion on that and it’s important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now....Our job is to determine what is, not what ought to be and when we get into the job of what ought to be I think we’re not doing a service to the American people....As a journalist I feel strongly that’s something that I should not be taking a position on. I’m supposed to figure out what is and what is not, not what ought to be.
By Brent Baker | September 6, 2010 | 2:44 PM EDT

With the rise of the Tea Party, their push for constitutional limits on government power and admiration for the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, I thought I’d use this last holiday of the summer as an opportunity to post an item from the MRC’s archive which exposed how a major cable network once tried to discredit George Washington’s moral authority in history, and thus the legitimacy of the Revolutionary War.

In an A&E movie, aired in 2000, on George Washington crossing the Delaware, The Crossing, he is persuaded that just like the hired-gun Hessians, his opposition to British taxes means he too is fighting “for profit.” Jeff Daniels, playing George Washington, decries the Hessians: “You want me to weep for those bastards, men who kill for profit?” General Nathanial Greene counters: “Our own cause is, at its heart, a fight against British taxation, is it not? In the end sir, we all kill for profit -- the British and the Hessians, and us.” That convinces Washington.

“That spin is no surprise,” a 2000 MRC CyberAlert item noted, “when you learn that the screenplay was written by a communist. Really.”